Probate form refers to documents that are filed through probate court. This judicial division oversees many types of proceedings including estate settlement, intervention proceedings to establish guardianship or conservatorship, disclaimers, filing or modifying trusts, and litigation surrounding probated estates.
The type of probate form required depends on the kind of proceeding, as well as the state and county where the proceeding takes place. Probate laws are different in each state, so it's best to consult with a probate attorney to ensure appropriate forms are filed through the court.
While a lawyer is not required to handle probate proceedings, it can be advantageous to obtain legal counsel when there is a good probability that problems will arise. This is particularly true in instances of estate settlement where family members are likely to file legal proceedings to contest the Will.
The most common proceedings that occur in probate court are related to estate settlement. This is because every estate has to endure probate in order to tie up loose ends and legally transfer property to beneficiaries.
As long as the decedent executed a last will and testament, probate is generally a simple process. A personal representative in named in the Will and is responsible for performing certain duties. The representative files the Will through court to acquire a probate case number.
If a Will was not written, the case is opened by filing the decedent's death certificate. A personal representative has to be confirmed by the court before engaging in settlement duties. This kind of estate is referred to as intestate and usually takes longer to complete.
Taking time to write a Will is probably the best gift anyone can give their family. Wills are used for many important reasons. Not only do they declare the inheritance property gifted to each beneficiary, they are also are needed to appoint legal guardianship and give direction about settling personal finances.
Common types of probate forms include: claim against estate, disposition of personal property, agreement and receipt for deposit of Will, inventory of property, and demand for notice.
When property is protected by a trust it is no longer considered part of the estate and thereby avoids probate. However, trusts need to be recorded through the probate office using a Registration of Trust form.
Probate conservatorship refers to a court proceeding to designate a person to take care of a person that isn't capable of caring for their self. This doesn't necessarily mean becoming a live-in caregiver, but instead managing daily needs by hiring appropriate medical personnel or overseeing administration of financial matters.
Multiple forms are involved with conservatorship including: petition for appointment, citation for conservatorship, letters of conservatorship, and order appointing conservatorship.
Guardianship, adoption, name changes, and emancipation hearings are also conducted at probate offices. Again, the types of probate forms vary by county and state. However, nearly every state government provides downloadable forms via their website, along with checklists for each type of proceeding.
It's important to file appropriate probate forms when major life changes occur. If you're uncertain where to start or in need of more information, we invite you to look through our estate planning article library.