After the death of a loved one, surviving family members can have a hard enough time dealing with grief and other emotions but, on top of that, they typically also have to address the deceased person’s estate by going through the probate process. So, what is probate, and how can you get through it successfully?
In short, probate is the process of: identifying a deceased person’s assets; gathering those assets; identifying and paying off the deceased person’s debts; distributing remaining assets to the appropriate beneficiaries; and, lastly, closing the estate.
Sometimes, the more assets the deceased person had, the more complicated the probate process. Or, sometimes beneficiaries – or those who believe they should be beneficiaries – have legal disagreements about the distribution of the estate.
For many people, the probate process is completely foreign and may seem overly complicated or time-consuming. It can seem like there are a number of things that could potentially go wrong.
However, when the deceased person had an estate plan – specifically, a will – that can help surviving family members and their attorneys as they attempt to get through the probate process in the most efficient and timely manner possible. After all, a will can provide detailed instructions on exactly what assets the person has, where they are, how to access them and, ultimately, how the deceased person wants those assets to be distributed to identified beneficiaries.
If you are dealing with the immediate aftermath of the death of a loved one, it helps to be familiar with the basic probate concepts. From there, be sure to get the right information about your own unique situation and how the probate process might play out for you and your family.