Most people are quick to think that only the wealthy have estates to leave to their loved ones when they pass, but that isn’t true. Everyone has an estate that is made of all of their assets. If you have a vast estate or just a few assets to leave behind, it is important that you take the time to learn the basics of estate planning. This is your first step in the process of giving your spouse, families, church, charities, or community a piece of your estate after your passing.
What Role Does A Probate Play In Estate Planning?
When people fail to properly do their estate planning, the courts are forced to carry out a process called probate. Probate is the legal process where the court will oversee how a deceased person’s estate is distributed.
The steps of a probate are as follows:
- Identifying any debts and existing assets
- Paying off those debts
- Distributing the remainder of their assets
Will All Estates See Probate?
For most after-death distribution of assets that belong to estates, some level of probate will occur. While there are estates that do not see probate, the courts usually verify trusts, wills, and any other documents pertaining to estate planning. Courts can appoint a personal representative that will oversee the estate and distribute assets. Typically, estates will have their own appointed executor(s) named before the testator passes.
Probate Can Be Timely
Regardless of if the courts are in complete control of administering an estate or if they have very little involvement, probate can take a long time– some even take years. There are quite a few reasons that some probates take more time than others.
These include situations such as:
- The testator did not choose a good executor
- Beneficiaries are not agreeing or getting along
- The estate includes several wills
- The IRS requires the estate to file their federal estate tax returns
- Beneficiaries do not live near each other
- The estate includes unusual or rare assets that are difficult to distribute
- There are many beneficiaries listed
- The estate has assets in several states or other countries
It might seem that a probate can be unnecessarily long and drawn out, however, the courts only spend that amount of time to be absolutely sure that executors are distributing the assets as evenly and fairly as they possibly can. Want to avoid a long, drawn-out probate? Take the time to properly plan your estate. Your loved ones will thank you.
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About Grubbs & Landry
At Grubbs & Landry, PLLC, we are dedicated to personal and friendly service. We manage our practice in an ethical, cost-effective manner to best help our clients resolve their legal issues with the least expense possible. We pride ourselves in advocating for our client in divorce, child custody, and child support matters as well as other family law matters. We are active in prosecuting personal injury cases-recovering for the injuries our clients sustain due to the negligence of others. Additionally, we help our clients prepare for the future through the preparation of Wills, Power of Attorney and Living Will.