What is the Probate Process?
When dealing with the death of a loved one, you may have to face a process called probate. Probate is the process of gathering a deceased person’s assets and ensuring they are distributed to inheritors and creditors. An executor is responsible for determining which claims are legitimate and for ensuring they are paid from the estate. The court oversees the probate process to ensure that executors take all necessary and required legal steps.
One main factor in determining the probate process an executor must follow is whether or not your state has adopted the Uniform Probate Code (UPC). This code or law was created to make the probate process more simple and streamlined, and also allow for executors to have some flexibility. While not all states have adopted the UPC, most use at least some of the rules.
According to the UPC, there are three kinds of probate: informal, unsupervised formal and supervised formal. Most cases follow the informal process, which does not include court hearings, however if anyone involved in the process wants to contest a proceeding, then the informal process can’t be used.
The unsupervised formal process includes a traditional court proceeding. This process is generally used if there is reason to involve the courts, such as a disagreement over the distribution of assets among heirs. The supervised formal process is not very common and only is used when the courts believe there is a specific need for court protection.
Every probate court has rules and requirements as far as the process and documents required. Filing the death certificate, mailing notices to beneficiaries and heirs, obtaining witness statements and informing creditors are only some of the possible requirements of an executor in the probate process.
Can the Probate Process Be Simplified or Avoided?
The probate process can be costly and time consuming, and there are steps you can take to minimize or even avoid the process. By having a trust in place, assets or property are transferred to the trust then transferred to the beneficiaries, therefore simplifying or even bypassing the probate process. Having a trust can also minimize the possibility of lawsuits by heirs. Since laws vary from state to state, it is always best to consult your estate planning professional for your estate planning needs.
To have your questions answered about the probate process, or if you have general questions regarding your financial future, contact the team at Bayntree Wealth Advisors at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-255-3200.
Bayntree Wealth Advisors, located in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona, provides comprehensive financial planning and wealth management. The Bayntree team specializes in all aspects of financial health, including retirement planning, risk management, investment advice, tax strategies, estate planning and insurance.
Bayntree does not provide specific legal or tax advice. Please consult with your tax advisor or legal professional for guidance with your individual situation.