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Estate Planning: Probate & Trust Administration

Administering the estate of a family member can be time consuming and emotionally draining – especially after the loss of that loved one.  Handling the details of an estate can be particularly difficult when you are grieving the loss of a loved one or if there is disagreement within the family.  We can help you through this most difficult time.

What is probate?

Probate is a legal process where the court oversees the distribution of assets left by a deceased person.  Probate is needed if the deceased left no Will or to make sure assets are distributed consistent with a Will.  Assets are anything a person owns with value, such as real and personal property, bank accounts, vehicles, and cash.

When is probate needed?

Probate is not always necessary.  If the gross assets of an estate are under $24,000, if assets are properly titled jointly with a right of survivorship, or when a beneficiary is named as in a life insurance policy or retirement account, probate may not be needed.  If a person dies leaving very few assets with little value, such as personal belongings or household goods, and has no debt, these items can be distributed among the rightful heirs without the supervision of the court.

Probate is necessary to:

  • Clear title to land, stocks and bonds, or large bank or savings and loan accounts that were held in the name of the deceased person only, and put the title to those assets in the names of the persons inheriting.
  • Collect debts owed to the deceased person or settle litigation on behalf of the deceased person.
  • Settle a dispute between people who claim they are entitled to assets of the deceased person.
  • Resolve any disputes about the validity of the deceased person’s Will.
  • Resolve creditor claims so that people who inherit property aren’t surprised by liens against the property that surface later.


How long does probate take?

Probate can be started 30 days after death and takes a minimum of six to nine months to complete.  If the estate includes property that takes a while to sell, if the heirs disagree, or if there are complicated tax or other matters, probate can last much longer.  Many probates take a year or more.  Often the last task is the filing of taxes and receipt of any tax return or payment of amounts due.  A small estate proceeding generally takes four to six months.

Am I personally responsible for my love one’s debts, including this probate?

  1. All debts and obligations of the deceased person are payable out of the assets remaining in their estate at the time of their death. This is why the priority order of claims is so important and why you can’t accept or distribute any assets to heirs until all debts are paid.

Getting good legal counsel and following the rules of probate will PROTECT you from getting sued by creditors or other persons.

We provide an initial consultation at no charge.  Bring all the information you have and let’s talk through the process, timeline, and costs.  You’ll appreciate the peace of mind of knowing you have someone familiar with the rules of probate to help you though this complicated process.  We look forward to working with you!

Get A Free Consultation With Anne.

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