Lynn A. Kriessler, Esq.

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What is Probate?

Probate = Headache

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What exactly is Probate?

Probate is the court process used to administer a deceased person’s estate.  This process is governed by state law. The decedent’s property and assets are gathered and accounted for, debts and taxes (if any) are paid, and the remaining property, assets and cash are distributed to the heirs specified in the Will (or according to the law of intestate succession if there is no valid Will). The probate court authorizes an executor or administrator to carry out this process under the supervision of the court. 

Probate presents a number of issues, including:

  • expenses of court costs, executor fees and attorney fees
  • delays in the distribution of your estate to your heirs
  • probate is a matter of public record and anyone can access the record 

Probate = Headache in most cases, but there are some advantages to probate, including:

  • orderly transfer of assets in an open manner, approved by the court
  • help avoid or resolve family disputes
  • validity of title of the transferred assets is not in question
  • creditor's claims are governed by a set order of priority and can be barred if presented more than 6 months following the date of death
  • preserves the rights of a surviving spouse who has been disinherited or who receives an unfair share, to receive an "elective share" of the deceased’s person’s estate. 

The following property is subject to probate. 

  • title solely in the name of the deceased with no named beneficiary (or no living beneficiary)
  • title held as tenants in common 

This property is not subject to probate.

  • title that has a named beneficiary 
  • title held jointly with rights of survivorship 

With proper planning, your estate can avoid probate.  If probate is necessary, we can assist you with the process.

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