It can be very difficult to lose someone you love, especially when it happens unexpectedly or when it happens too soon. As if losing your loved one isn’t hard enough on you emotionally, soon after the death it will be necessary to take care of the decedent’s property and settle their estate. Usually, in order to accomplish this you’re going to need to go to court.
When someone passes away and they left behind a valid will, the will must be filed with the court within 30 days after the person’s death and a copy of the will must be mailed to the executor, which is the person nominated in the will to manage the estate.
Essentially, as long as the decedent owned property that did not automatically transfer to someone else through a beneficiary or payable-on-death designation, joint tenancy, or community property with right of survivorship, then it will be necessary to use a procedure to transfer that property, otherwise known as “probate assets” to those who are legally entitled to receive it. The most common court procedure which transfers title for probate assets is called probate.
As a beneficiary, you may have never heard the word “probate” before until now, but it will probably mean a lot to you in the near future. Probate is the court-supervised process where a decedent’s assets are collected and assessed, all debts and taxes are paid, and the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries listed in the will. Typically, the executor named in the will begins the probate process by filing a petition in court and seeking their appointment.
The probate process has advantages and disadvantages; for example, one disadvantage is that it can tie up an inheritance for up to a year or longer, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its benefits too. The probate court strives to resolve disputes about the distribution of assets in a relatively quick fashion through a structured process with clearly defined rules and procedures.
Due to the fact that the probate court reviews the personal representative’s handling of the estate, this supervision helps to protect the beneficiaries’ interests – which are one of the greatest advantages of probate, especially if there is a lack of trust between the beneficiaries and the executor.
If you are interested in creating an estate plan, it’s a good idea to speak to a Riverside estate planning & probate attorney to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of probate before deciding on establishing a will or a living trust. While the administration of a living trust is faster than a probate proceeding, each different estate planning tool has its own advantages and disadvantages which should be carefully considered.
Contact Dennis M. Sandoval, a PLC today for a free one-hour consultation by calling (951) 968-0980.