Probate is a mystery to many people when they first start to look into the subject of estate planning. In an effort to clear the haze a bit we would like to answer three common questions about probate here.
1.) In a general sense, how would probate be defined?
Probate is a legal process. The probate court in the jurisdiction within which a deceased individual passes away supervises the administration of his or her estate.
2.) What does this administration entail?
This is a very good question. When you draw up your last will you should include the choice of an executor or executrix. This is the person who actually conducts the business of the estate.
This business can include paying final debts, including tax bills. Property liquidation may be necessary as well.
Because of the intricacies and the specific tasks involved the executor or executrix will also need the assistance of a probate lawyer, accountant, liquidation professionals, realty specialists, and an appraiser or appraisers.
3.) Is there any way to arrange for asset transfers outside of the process of probate?
Yes, there are a number of different ways, and the best course of action would depend on your specific circumstances. One very common device used to enable probate avoidance is the revocable living trust.
With these instruments the grantor retains control of the funds while he or she is still alive. After the death of the grantor the beneficiaries receive distributions from the trust in accordance with the terms of the trust agreement.
These distributions are made by the trustee that the grantor selects when the trust is being established.