Probate is a court process administering the distribution of assets belonging to someone who recently passed away.
Anything the decedent owned at the time of their death belongs to their estate until the probate process concludes.
What property goes through probate?
Any and all property is eligible for the probate process with a few exemptions. The most common assets seen in probate court include:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts, including checking, savings and certificates of deposits
- Personal property
If the deceased had a valid will in place at the time of their passing, the probate process will formally distribute those assets to the named beneficiaries. However, going through probate allows people to contest all or parts of the will.
Are any assets exempt from probate?
Many people take steps during estate planning to avoid the lengthy and sometimes costly process of probate. For example, creating a living trust allows you to name beneficiaries and maintain control of the trust during your lifetime. Upon your death, your named successor trustee will oversee the distribution of assets without interference from the court.
What happens to debts during the probate process?
Part of the probate process is the payment of debts to creditors. This requires careful consideration. Many people turn to legal assistance because some debts are not eligible for payment. Creditors will receive notice of the decedent’s death and probate date, allowing them a deadline for filing claims for payment.
A number of circumstances can complicate the probate process. Therefore, planning ahead and avoiding probate protects the family from potential delays.