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What is Probate?

 Posted on May 07, 2013 in Beneficiaries

Probate is the process of figuring out how to distribute a person's assets after they die. If you have no estate plan at all, your property may not be distributed the way you wanted it to be distributed  Taxes and state laws must be considered, but without a will, you have no control of your belongings. During probate, the court will oversee the division of assets and help mitigate any disputes. The process of probate starts with naming the executor, either by a will or, in the case that the deceased had no estate plan, someone named by the court. The executor presents the will, if there is one, to the probate court. Heirs, beneficiaries and creditors are notified that the estate is in court in case they want to contest a will or bring any claims. In the meantime, the executor manages all financial matters, including debts and bills. Once all debts are finalized in the court summary of receipts, a report is public and given to all the beneficiaries. How long the process of probate takes depends on how complicated the estate is. If a person is in a lot of debt, probate may take longer. Not all property is considered probate property.
  • Probate property is property that belonged to the individual who died, and had no other names on it.
  • Property with another person's name on it, for example a home co-owned between a husband and wife, will automatically belong to the living owner.
  • Property in a trust is not part of probate.
  • Property that is meant to "transfer on death" will not be a part of probate.
If no estate tax needs to be paid out and few or no claims against the estate are made, the probate process could take less than one year. However, if the estate is contested it can take years for the process to be finalized. Make sure you have an estate plan to simplify the probate process for your heirs and beneficiaries. Contact an estate planning attorney from the DuPage area who will be able to put things together for you.
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