Wills probate refers to a legal last will and testament executed by a person who had died. During probate, the last will must be validated and the estate settled before inheritance assets can be distributed to designated heirs.
An estate administrator is appointed in wills probate. This individual can be a spouse, family member, friend, attorney, estate planner or financial expert that specializes in handling probate cases.
Prior to appointing a probate administrator, it is important to determine who is most qualified to handle your estate in the event of your death. If you engage in ironclad estate planning which simplifies the probate process, your spouse or adult children might be the best choice.
If your estate consists of financial and real estate holdings, businesses or exceptionally valuable items, a probate attorney or estate planner might be a better option.
Most estate administrators will require some assistance from a lawyer. Decedents' wills probate must be filed through the local court where the decedent resided. The Internal Revenue Service requires a final tax return filed on behalf of the decedent within nine months from the date of death, whether probate has settled or is still in progress.
Outstanding debts must be paid. Real estate must be maintained throughout probate. This includes paying related expenses such as mortgage installments, property taxes, homeowners' association dues, and insurance. When the estate does not possess the financial ability to pay outstanding debts or real estate expenses, a judge can order assets to be sold.
Probate generally takes a minimum of six to nine months to settle. Outstanding debts, probate administration, legal and court fees can quickly bankrupt the estate; leaving nothing for heirs. Regardless of your estate's value, measures should be taken to protect assets from undergoing the probate process.
The only option to avoid probate is to establish a trust. It is important to consult with a qualified estate planner since multiple types of trusts exist. Although trusts are generally reserved for estates valued over $100k, smaller estates can protect assets by establishing transfer on death and payable on death beneficiaries. Additional information on asset protection can be found in my article, Avoid Probate: Five Ways to Protect Your Assets.
Estate administrators are compensated for managing wills probate estates. Fees are paid according to the decedent's state of residence. Some states require probate personal representatives to be compensated at an hourly rate, while others are paid a flat fee or percentage of the estate's value.
Once estate affairs are in order, the probate executor presents documentation to the judge for approval. The judge reviews payments, legal documents and validation of the last will. As long as the estate is properly settled, inheritance assets can be distributed to designated heirs.
Simon Volkov is a private real estate investor and probate liquidator. He offers solutions to estate executors who need to sell assets in order to settle decedents' estates. Simon also purchases inheritance assets from heirs who prefer to sell their inheritance in exchange for a lump sum of cash.
If you are a probate administrator or beneficiary entitled to assets held in probate and want to obtain cash for inheritance, visit www.SimonVolkov.com today!
Published on November 04, 2009 at 01:22 AM