When you lose your family members, the last thing you should have to do is go through the lengthy probate process to settle their estates. However, skipping probate is only an option if the right steps have been taken to create a will or living trust. Unfortunately, in most cases, this has not been done. In fact, less than half of adults have created wills or living trusts. That means you are likely going to be subjected to the probate process.
Therefore, you will need to know where to find some probate resources and find answers to the most commonly asked questions.
Why Is It Necessary?
You’ve probably heard that probate should be avoided. That makes it sound like it’s a bad thing. However, sometimes it is simply a necessity rather than a negative. In fact, the probate process has been streamlined so that it does its job of minimizing fraud, conflicts, and delays. This provides a court-supervised method to identify heirs and grant them their inheritance without disruption.
Why Would You Get Involved?
There are several reasons why you may get involved with a probate case. You could find yourself named as the executioner of a will and need to do your duties to fulfill that role, for starters. You could also be an heir. Otherwise, you could get involved with a case when you contest a will. In any of these cases, you will likely be called into probate court. The best thing to do in this situation is to hire an attorney who can get you through the process as quickly as possible. There are also plenty of resources online that can help you get through the process so you can move on with your life.
Where Can You Find Resources?
Since this is a complex process, you should find resources whenever you are confused. Your state court system is usually the best place to get authoritative answers and resources. Otherwise, you can contact your state bar association for resources and attorneys who can help you.
What Are the Laws Like?
The deceased’s land, personal belongings, and other assets are distributed according to state laws. While each state has its own inheritance system, most of them divide an estate equally among the descendants and living family members.
Are There Tax Concerns?
In some states, you may need to pay inheritance or estate taxes. Additionally, if other beneficiaries live in different states, it will help to know the policies in those locations. To find out about taxes in various states, call the Department of Revenue.
Which Court Handles It?
Although each state is different, most of them have the state Superior Court handling probate cases. This court system has different districts, so that you will be handling it in your local district. Therefore, you will only need to go to your local courthouse to have the case settled. It is best to check with your state’s clerk of court to see which court will handle your case. Once you have identified the court handling your case, you will need to visit their website and download any forms necessary to get through the process.
How Does Estate Planning Change This?
Estate planning is one method people use to alter the probate process. For example, having a will or living trust determines where your assets will go ahead of time. This can shorten the probate process or eliminate it.
With so few people creating wills or living trusts, it is common for beneficiaries to go through the probate system. This is a necessary process that divides the estate. It is handled in court and carried out according to state laws. Fortunately, there are online and in-person resources where you can find more information about this process.