For those who want to take care of their loved ones even after they are gone, an estate plan can be quite helpful. And proper estate planning requires a will.
Some may not be aware of how important a will is to the probate process, or they may not fully understand what probate is. This article is here to help explain it all.
There are several laws that govern the maintenance and distribution of estates and probate is a big part of the process. Probate is essentially a legal process that validates the distribution of an estate. It accounts for all assets of an estate, ensures the payment of all taxes, settles all debts with creditors, and distributes remaining assets to named beneficiaries. There are certain cases where a probate may not be required due to retirement benefits, assets in a trust, jointly held properties and life insurance policy proceeds. Depending on the situation, there are additional assets that may not be in a probate. An attorney can help to identify these for you.
The will is a strong determining factor in how the courts designate the distribution of an estate during probate. If a will is in place, the executor submits the will to the court, which then determines whether it is valid and considers any challenges to it. If deemed valid, the process moves forward, and the executor and court work in conjunction to settle the estate.
Without a valid will, the court makes all designations about an estate. As you can see, a legitimate will is therefore essential to a proper estate plan. Without one, it will be up to an impartial court to determine how to settle your affairs.
Take some time to review or create your estate plan with an experienced attorney to ensure the proper execution of your estate when you’re gone.