From time-to-time, you might hear someone refer to probate court. Although it may be commonly referred to in movies and television, not everyone has a clear sense of what probate is and its purpose. Hopefully this post will help shed some light on the subject.
Probate is the legal process through which property is transferred after a property owner’s death. Generally speaking, probate calls for the gathering of all assets, paying off debts and distributing any remaining assets in accordance with an estate plan and the law. Typically, this process is carried out by an administrator who is either named by the deceased individual or appointed by the court.
Many people choose to try to avoid probate, as it can add additional costs to an estate. This is typically done by making certain types of gifts and creating specific types of trusts, such as revocable trusts. However, it is common for an estate to go through probate, and the matter can turn into quite a dispute. This often happens when one beneficiary believes that he or she was cheated out of a fair share of the estates assets or left out of the distribution altogether. When this happens, claims may be made that an individual who created a will or trust was incapable of doing so due to mental incapacity or that he or she was pressured by another individual to create the legal documents in a certain way.
Regardless of one’s particular set of circumstances, it is almost always a good idea to have legal representation before entering the probate process. An attorney experienced with handling these types of matters may be able to prevent issues from arising and ensure that an individual’s legal rights are protected moving forward.