No one actually wakes up and decides to dedicate the day to thinking about death, wills, and then the probate process. It’s quite unfortunate that death ranks top of humanity’s inevitable and most people will need to initiate the probate process eventually at some point. Not minding how you get involved with a probate, it’s pertinent to understand that you can’t handle some things all by yourself. As a matter of fact, there are numerous nonnegotiable things you need to understand and handle before you involve the services of a probate court.
In the case of an eventuality, everyone tries to play a role. Someone might have told you that you require a probate attorney and that you need to head to court. Contacting a probate court is a maybe and maybe not situation depending of the predicates of the circumstances that surround. There is some information you need to be armed with and likewise, there are things you should know before heading to a probate court. Every probate court has its own guidelines and document requisites, the contents of the documents including how they must be filed bearing in mind that there is no estate is out rightly typical.
To determine whether probate is necessary, you have to consider the properties owned by the decedent alongside how it was held. Other things that you should know and consider includes the laws guiding the state where the decedent died as well as the laws that guide states where the decedent’s properties are located. Since the probate process is about clarifying the issues in a will and resolving any difficulty that arises in the process of distributing funds of an estate, you need to engage in a finicky examination process.
The first thing is to carefully examine the will, establish who the beneficiaries are, what assets the decedent owns as well as the value of those assets, and then the debts owed by the decedent with details of their amounts. Thereafter, you will need to create a bank account for the sole collection of all money including income, earnings and savings that continues to come into the estate as well as any bill or dues that the estate will continually need to take care of.
Find the Will
The will is the official document of the probate process, it’s usually kept in safety boxes and cabinets, depending of the personality of the decedent, you can also check beneath the bed. After you have found the will, the next major challenge to be resolved through the probate process is clarifying the title for the property of the estate.
Determining the Names of The Beneficiary in The Will
The names of the people contained in the will need to be ascertained. The list should be as detailed as possible containing all the necessary information about the beneficiaries. It must contain information like name, address, phone number, email, date of birth, social security number to say the least. If someone listed among the beneficiary is dead, a certified copy of the person’s death certificate should be obtained.
Take A Full Inventory of All Property
Before you head to the probate court, there is need to comprehensively list everything owned by the decedent.
All the property the decedent owned at death is part of the estate and should be included in the probate process. These includes bank accounts, certificate of deposits, pension accounts, stocks and brokerage accounts, cash, checking and savings account, saving bonds, life insurance policies including benefits like social security and veteran benefits. The deceased’s personal property isn’t to be left out, things like jewelry, ornaments, artworks furniture and other collectibles and valuables are to be included.
Probate isn’t limited to property distribution only, it’s a process that also results in a legal transfer of title to the said property. For instance, a family member contained in the will such as an uncle passed away and left his house to a niece, the probate court has the capacity to issue a title put in the niece’s name, who afterwards can legally proceed to manage the property. In this case until the will is probated, that title is potentially indeterminable because it hasn’t been legally transferred.
The following information needs to be included in each of the property owned by the decedent.
- A proper titling of the property i.e., who legally owns it
- What proportion or percentage of the property was owned by the decedent? I.e. was it a total ownership or was it jointly owned?
- If it was jointly owned what was the percentage owned by the deceased?
- The fair value of the property needs to be ascertained. In case someone is offering to buy, how much would be offered? To adequately determine the value of a property, its best to hire a professional to assess the value.
- Does the property already have a named beneficiary?
- Next thing you should consider before heading to the probate court is to make a list of debts owed by the decedent.
The list should be comprehensive and detailed, no person or entity should be left out. The organizations, individuals, companies the decedent owed money should be documented. These includes medical bills, payday loans, mortgage loans, car loans, alimony, child care, utility bills, credit cards etc.
All these processes and details are major requisites that must be well catered before you engage the services of a probate court. Upon collection of all these information, your attorney and you can proceed to the probate court. It is important to mention that a couple of things cannot be concluded until the probate reaches completion especially things like settling taxes and final bills, transfer and distribution of assets to the beneficiaries, etc.
On the road to court, you will need to deploy fast channels that will inform the parties to the decedent. For example, a notice could be published in the newspapers, as well as electronic mails can be sent to the creditors of the deceased. This is strictly in line with the rules of the court. You then need to file a proof that the notices were properly published and mailed.