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If you die having left a will or trust, the probate process is likely to move much more quickly and inexpensively.  Dying without a will is called "dying intestate."

Probate is a process that is designed to enable the proper transfer of the decedent's estate to the rightful beneficiaries. This process is also used to collect any taxes due on the transfer of the property. Outstanding debts can also be settled through probate, and usually a date is set by which time creditors must file any claims that they have. The probate process may take from seven to nine months, and the deadline for claims from creditors is normally six months from notification of the probate. The balance of the estate or property following settlement of these debts and taxes is then distributed to the beneficiaries. The nature of probate means that if there is no estate or property to be distributed then there is no need to go through probate.

Probate does not always proceed smoothly.  Rightful beneficiaries need to be identified and located, competing claims against the estate must be settled and in some cases, an estate may require resolution by a probate court.

Joint Tenancy and Life Insurance Policies

If you own property in joint tenancy, your estate is generally transferred to any surviving co owner and probate may be unnecessary.  Additionally, if you have a life insurance policy that pays a death benefit to a certain beneficiary, the proceeds of the life insurance policy usually skip probate.

Ending Probate

The probate process ends when your estate is fully distributed and any creditors' claims and estate taxes are paid.  Writing a will or executing a trust is a major way to expedite the probate process.

Please contact attorney Joyce Ann Williams at info@jwilliamslaw.com for additional information about her probate services.

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