When someone dies, it can create a lot of hardship. Of course, there is immense grief for the surviving loved ones to process in the wake of the loss. The planning of the funeral, traditional memorial rites or celebrations of life can feel like an impossible load to carry on top of the heartache from the loss.
The death also initiates another cumbersome and often overwhelming process: dealing with probate. Probate is the process by which the courts oversee the settling of a decedentʻs estate upon death. It includes settling debts and taxes, coordinating any necessary guardianship or business ownership transfers, and gathering, assessing, and disbursing property, money and other assets.
Having a will can make asset distribution easier
Probate can become a lengthy and frustrating process. In the event that there is no will, the probate court will assign an executor and administrator for the estate. Having a valid will can lessen the complexity by clearly stating the decedentʻs wishes, naming the executor of the will and identifying the beneficiaries of any inheritances. Moreover, the following assets can bypass probate entirely because they typically name a chosen beneficiary:
- Dower and curtesy property
- Retirement investment accounts
- Living trusts
- Real estate with joint tenancy
- Life insurance payouts
- Transfer-on-death investment accounts
- Pay-on-death bank accounts
If you are facing challenges while working with probate as an executor, or you are a surviving family member wanting to contest a probate court ruling, you may want to work with someone familiar with probate and estate planning to support you as you navigate this difficult time.