Probate is the formal court procedure which occurs after death to dispose of personal and real property pursuant to a last will and testament. In event there is no will, the property is disposed of pursuant to the relevant state laws. Each state’s laws vary to some degree on the probate procedure depending upon the existence of a will and the size of the estate.
There are many reasons for probate, but the most important are: 1) allowing the transfer of clear title to real property owned at death which was not held in joint tenancy with someone else or with right of survivorship, (2) allowing a will to be established as the official will in order to dispose of the estate, and (3) allowing the estate to be distributed to the intended beneficiaries after the payment of all debts and charges against the estate and cutting off further claims by creditors against the property distributed.
It may be possible to avoid probate altogether, such as through the use of revocable or irrevocable trusts. However, whether or not the court system is used, certain documents must be filed and taxes must be paid in order to properly finalize the deceased’s affairs. Due to the complicated nature of the probate system, in addition to the emotional turmoil involved in these types of matters, a lawyer should be consulted. Call our attorneys to discuss your options today. You do not have to go through this process alone.