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PROBATE. WHAT IS IT?
In modern estate planning people often talk about avoiding probate, but not everyone understands what probate is or what it entails. The word probate refers to the Probate Court. While it goes by other names in some other states, every state has a court that administers the transfer of assets after a person’s death.
In general, the court process involves appointing an administrator or executor to work with the court to administer the estate of the deceased. The executor’s job is to gather together and inventory all the assets of the deceased. Next the executor must obtain a value for all the assets. Once these steps are complete, the executor will report this accounting to the Probate Court and to beneficiaries and other interested parties.
The executor must also gather all the debts of the deceased person as well as claims filed against the estate. The executor will pay those believed to be valid. If a dispute arises it is the executor’s job to represent the interests of the estate before the Probate Court.
The final job of the executor is to distribute the assets of the estate to the proper beneficiaries; again with the permission of the Probate Court. If an heir challenges the distribution then the executor must represent the interests of the estate.
This process is often long, expensive and burdensome to the person selected as the executor. Modern estate planning technics are often designed to avoid the probate process. If you would like to lean more then please contact us at Legacy Trust and Wills.
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