When drafting a will to determine what happens with your assets after you pass on, it’s important to understand the impact of probate law. When a person dies, their will must go through probate, a legal process in which the courts authenticate the document’s validity, and ensure taxes and debts related to the estate are paid. Here’s what you need to know about the process.
FAQs About Probate Law
What does probate entail?
After the will’s validity is confirmed, an inventoried list of the deceased’s property is created and each item’s value appraised. The courts ensure relevant debts and taxes, such as estate tax, are paid. If necessary, assets may be sold to settle these debts. Only after this is done are the assets distributed to the beneficiaries outlined in the will.
Who handles the process?
Each will has an executor; this is the individual responsible for notifying the courts and starting the probate process. The executor could be a trusted family member or an estate lawyer. If you pass without a will or have one, but fail to name an executor, a judge appoints an individual, known as an administrator, to handle your estate.
How long does probate take?
Probate can last a few months to years. A lengthy probate process is possible if there are disputes regarding the awarding of assets. Wills are documents of public record, so everyone can see what is bestowed to each beneficiary.
Can probate be avoided?
Some people opt for a living trust to avoid some of the hassles, like estate taxes and lack of privacy, that come with a will. An estate lawyer can advise which option best suits your needs. They can also draft the documentation to mitigate the impact taxes can have on your assets.
It’s never too soon to take care of estate planning. Let the Law Office of Dawn N. Murata in Lihue, HI, guide you through the process so that both you and your beneficiaries are protected. With over 20 years of experience, Murata and her team practice a variety of areas including business formation, estate and trust administration, contract drafting, business transactions, and probate law. To schedule a meeting, send a message online or call (808) 245-4572.