Do you have assets that you would like to pass on to specific heirs? Consider setting up an estate plan to protect your assets and avoid probate.
When someone passes away it is necessary for the remaining estate to enter into probate court. Probate law is somewhat different from any other type of law in that it is overseen directly by the court to ensure that all debts and assets are appropriately managed. Depending on the size of the estate left behind, this can be a rather complicated matter that can take many months or even longer to resolve.
This is done to ensure that all of those that may be entitled to funds from the estate receive them. Those that have money owed to them are first paid before any assets can be distributed to those that have been named in the will. In an ideal situation, the will would clearly name all those that are owed so that the process can run smoothly once it reaches court. In some cases, however, a probate lawyer may need to spend a great deal of time sifting through the records of the deceased in order to determine the steps that need to be taken.
Once all debts have been accounted for and paid, the remaining assets can be distributed as stated in the will. If there was not a will left, then the court will work to find the natural heirs of the deceased. If the individual was married, then that individual is typically deemed the heir, unless there was a prenuptial agreement that stated otherwise. If there was not a spouse, but there are surviving children, then they would be given the assets, divided equally among them.
While it is not often the case, at times there may be disputes among those that claim to be entitled to the assets. This can lead to the process taking a great deal more time as the court will have to mediate such situations in accordance with the state’s probate law.