The probate law in the United States of America


What is the probate law?

The probate law is a part of the American judicial system which handles any assets or liabilities left after someone in your family had passed away. This is when the executor is given the power to distribute your family members assets which have been laid out by a will. When a dead person’s will has an appointed executor this means that they become the representative for this dead person and have the responsibility of giving the correct people the money laid in their will, for example they will hand out previous owned property like their house. The executor must follow the deceased persons will correctly and hand out their assets appropriately to their wishes. Probate laws can sometimes be very complicated, for example if a person changes their will at the last minute this is taken with suspicion and accused of being put under pressure when in an unstable mind. This has mostly been the case with new caregivers who care for the patient in their last years of life and the deceased person suddenly gives all their assets to them. The person’s assets are divided by a last will and testament template where everything is documented and from this the probate court can divide your assets and hand them out to whomever you wish to inherit them. If you are interested in learning more about the probate law or have any unanswered questions visit in order to find out more information

What are the steps of the probate process?

The first step of the probate process requires determining who the representative is going to be. It is common for most wills to state who their personal representative is but if the person has died suddenly without stating this, the court will usually choose a family member to be the personal representative. This person holds the most power as they have all legal possession of the deceased person’s assets and have the important role of assigning the person’s property to others chosen in the will. The next step consists of a petition being filed in the county the deceased person lived in before their death. Although all states require a petition to be filed some courts may do this process differently and some may take longer than others. Once the petition is filed, the courts have been made aware of the death and so has all of the family members. Notice must be especially given to the names listed in the will or if there is no will potential heirs need to be selected and notified. The power then goes to the personal representative also known as executor who has the responsibility of collecting the property of the deceased and allocating it to those listed in the will. After this the court requires the personal representative to supply an inventory of all the property handed out with a reason but this does not have to include every single item. Before the money is distributed to their heirs the deceased person’s debts need to be paid off using the money from the assets. Any taxes also need to be paid off before the money can go to the beneficiaries, if these taxes are not paid the process cannot continue and the personal representative is not liable enough. If a person’s taxes are not paid but the estate has gone through anyway there can be consequences for the personal representative as they hold the responsibility for the persons money and assets. Lastly, the personal representative will submit an invoice of the transactions to the probate court and file a petition which states the actions they’ve taken

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How long is the probate process?

The length of the probate process depends on the estate as some are much quicker than others as some can take up to two weeks and others two years. Some things that may slow down your probate is when there is no will and the court has to choose an executor and decide which close family member is the most eligible. Also, if the deceased person has leftover debts and taxes to be paid it will delay the finalization of the probate because all of the taxes need to be properly paid before anything can be moved on. When in court, if someone contests against the will saying this will cause delay and will have to be investigated, slowing down the process massively. In most cases where there are a lot of beneficiaries it causes a great deal of disruption and arguments as it can lead to more issues with the way the assets are being distributed.

How to avoid problems with probate law

You can avoid many problems with probate law by using estate planning which follows the state law and helps to create a document for your upcoming death. It is important you have a well planned and efficient document so that it avoids any hassle when it comes to the beneficiaries. Another helpful tip to avoid any issues with probate law is to set up an ironclad will which has instructions for your assets or they will end up being distributed by the courts choice. In some cases you may need a witness to make your document valid, so making sure you have this sorted before will make it much easier for your family and beneficiaries and help you to stay on the good side of the law. You also need to make sure you select an appropriate executor who you trust to handle the dealings of your assets but they also need to be able to handle the responsibility given to them and take the job very seriously. In these cases it is always best to think ahead and so you should appoint a backup executor to take the other’s place if they are unable to complete the job, this ensures that no matter what the responsibility will be taken.

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