Probate is the legal process by which your Will is presented to the Probate Court after your death to have it declared valid and to have your Executor appointed. Simply stated, probate is the process of transferring the property of someone who has died (the decedent) to the persons named in the Will (the beneficiaries). However, your Executor must be appointed by the Court in order to collect and distribute your assets as stated in your Will. If you pass away without a Will or Trust, then the laws of intestacy decide who receives your assets, not you. If you created and funded a Revocable Living Trust, then your assets will not have to pass through the probate process.
Because probate is a legal process, there are many steps that must be followed before your Executor can be appointed. The process becomes much more complicated if any of your heirs are legally incapacitated, such as a child with mental retardation or a spouse suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or if anyone contests the Will.
The attorneys of McClelland, Jones, Lyons, Lacey & Williams, LLC recognize that the probate process is a very difficult and emotional time. Therefore, our attorneys dedicate themselves to guiding you through this complex system and making the process easier on loved ones left behind.
HOW CAN I AVOID PROBATE?
Consider using a Revocable Living Trust to distribute assets after your death. If you transfer your assets (i.e., residence, interests in real property, bank accounts and brokerage accounts) into your trust and name your trust as the beneficiary of other assets (i.e., retirement plans and life insurance), leaving no assets in your individual name when you die, then probate can be avoided. After you die, your successor trustee will have title to the assets and can distribute them according to the instructions contained in your trust.
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