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What is Probate?

When a person passes away, his or her estate will go through the probate process, allowing designated beneficiaries to receive property and assets, according to the last will and testament of the decedent. The probate process can take anywhere from six to nine months to complete, though the timeframe can vary, depending on whether or not there are any disputes regarding the distribution of assets. To avoid some of the complexities and hiccups that can come along with going through the probate process, many individuals obtain a living trust to reduce the amount of time needed to settle an estate.

The Probate Process

The probate process is not only designed to distribute assets and property in the aftermath of someone’s death. It can also be used to pay taxes and debts, appraise property, and to identify and inventory a deceased person’s property. If there is no will, property will be distributed according to state law.

If there is a will, the executor will have to secure and manage your assets throughout the probate process. He or she might also have to decide if your real estate and securities must be sold to pay off any outstanding debts you have. Additionally, if your will has numerous cash bequests, but your estate is primarily comprised of valuable art and furniture, your executor would likely have to sell your valuables to produce the cash.

Given that the probate process can take a considerable amount of time and some family members might need the funds immediately, it is possible for immediate family members to request the court to provide short-term support funds during probate proceedings.

Not all property must go through the probate process in the aftermath of someone’s death. Assuming the sum of money or the value of a property is not substantial, it can potentially get passed onto a beneficiary without going through probate.

Do I Have to Go Through the Probate Process?

If you wish to avoid the probate process to save your beneficiaries time and money, your best bet is to write a living trust. Living trusts allow your beneficiaries to bypass the probate process and can be changed at any time while you are alive. Additionally, if you were to ever become incapacitated and cannot manage your estate on your own, your executor would take care of it on your behalf.

Reach Out to an Experienced Probate Attorney Today!

If your loved one passed on, you will have to navigate the probate process to ensure the property is distributed according to his or her wishes. However, this process can be incredibly complicated and costly if done improperly. At The Smith Willis Firm, our probate attorney will provide the experienced and knowledgeable legal guidance you will need to get through the probate process. With over 15 years of legal experience on our side, you can feel confident that your case will be in good hands with us.

Reach out to our probate team today at (770) 766-5811 to request a free initial 10 to 15-minute phone consultation to find out what our team can do for you.