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If you’ve ever gone through the probate process, then you know it isn’t a particularly easy thing to do. It’s not so much that it’s difficult, it’s just sad, tedious, time consuming and sometimes frustrating, even with a small estate. There are some shortcuts to probate, but if you don’t know what those are (summary administration, administration of a small estate, etc.) then you can get caught up in the full estate probate process, needlessly spending time and money.
Probate is the process by which a person’s property is distributed after death. If there is a Will, the person died “testate” and property is distributed according to the instructions in the Will. If there is not a Will, the person died “intestate” and property is distributed according to the State’s statutes. Anyone who dies owning property, and particularly real estate, should have an estate opened and ‘probated’ so that the property can be distributed properly.
If there is a Will, the person who opens the estate is called the “Executor”. In there is not a Will, close family members have the right to apply to be the estate’s “Administrator”. If no close family member applies to administer the estate in the first 60 days after a person’s death then any individual, including a creditor of the deceased, can apply to open the estate.
We can help you make the right decisions about probate and either do the entire process with and for you, or help you through the process as much or as little as you need. The smartest thing you can do if you need to handle a loved one’s estate is to talk to an attorney before doing anything at all. Don’t even let family members take personal property for the deceased person’s home until you know exactly what needs to be done.
There are also ways to avoid probate, or minimize it significantly. If you’d like to learn how to make things easier for your loved ones, schedule an appointment with us for your Family Wealth Planning Session.
See our Resources page for information on grief counseling and widow’s support groups, or contact us for more information.