Probate refers to the court-supervised process of settling a deceased person’s affairs and distributing their property and assets to the rightful heirs. When is probate necessary? Probate is required any time someone passes away owning property in his or her name alone. One example is a deed for a house that lists only the deceased person. Another example is a bank account or life insurance policy which is titled solely in the name of the deceased person and does not designate a beneficiary to receive the proceeds upon the death of the account owner or policyholder.
Depending on the size of the estate and whether there are creditor claims or other disputes, a probate can take anywhere from 4 or 5 months to over a year to complete. Obviously, this can entail significant attorney fees and costs. Therefore, if possible, it’s best to avoid probate. A common misconception is that having a last will and testament avoids probate. It does not. However, there are other ways you can bypass the probate process and ensure that your family and loved ones are provided for and able to enjoy their inheritance in a more efficient, cost-effective manner. How to avoid probate will be the subject of my next post.