Briefly and succinctly defined, probate is the legal process of estate administration. Let’s look at some of the details, and some of the implications.
Personally Held Property
You may decide to maintain personal possession of your property throughout your life and arrange for its transfer through the terms of a last will. This is certainly an option that is available to you, and the majority of people go this route.
When you create a will you name an executor or personal representative. This is the person who will actually take on the hands-on administrative tasks that must be completed after you pass away. In other words, the executor will handle the business of the estate.
The executor does not read the will and start writing checks. The first order of business will be to admit the will to probate, but there is one caveat. In the state of Indiana, if the estate is valued at less than $50,000, it could potentially be transferred outside of probate through a simple affidavit procedure.
During probate the court will determine the validity of the last will. If anyone wanted to contest the will, arguments could be presented during the probate process.
Assuming the will is deemed valid, the executor must identify and inventory the assets, pay final debts on behalf of the estate, and prepare the assets for distribution to the heirs.
Drawbacks of Probate
There are certain inherent drawbacks that go along with the probate process. For one, there are probate costs to contend with. The court charges a filing fee, the executor is entitled to payment, and there can be accounting and legal fees. Appraisal and liquidation expenses can also accumulate.
Time consumption is another drawback. The heirs that have been named in the last will do not receive their inheritances until after the estate has been probated and closed by the court. This is going to take several months at minimum. Some more complicated cases can take considerably longer.
Alternatives to Probate
It is possible to arrange for the transfer of monetary assets outside of probate. If you would like to discuss probate avoidance strategies with a licensed estate planning attorney, contact us to arrange for a free consultation.
Free Report on the Probate Process
Our firm has assembled an electronic library that contains a series of free special reports on numerous different elder law and estate planning topics. One of the reports focuses on the probate process.
If you would like to gain access to this free report, click the following link and follow the simple structures: Free Probate Report.
Knowledge is power when you are planning your estate. Download the report, digest the information, and get in touch with us if you would like to ask further questions.
Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the added perspective of an accounting background to his work.