Wills probate refers to the process required by law to assess and distribute property belonging to a person who has died. The Last Will and Testament is a legal instrument that allows individuals to designate beneficiaries, establish guardianship for minor children, and designate an estate administrator to manage the estate.
The administrator of wills probate is responsible for a variety of duties. Oftentimes, decedents designate a family member to manage their estate. There are pros and cons to this decision. If the probate executor is a sibling or adult child, estate responsibilities can cause additional stress during the grieving process.
If family strife exists, the administrator can encounter additional problems. One way to avoid this is to retain the services of a probate attorney. If disputes arise, the attorney can assume duties to ease family problems. Probate lawyers can also assist with legal documents, real estate transfers and complicated issues.
The probate process typically lasts between six and nine months. Much depends on the workload of the court, size of the estate, amount of outstanding debt and complexity of distribution. If heirs contest the Will, probate can extend for several years and financially deplete the estate.
Estate administrators are compensated for their duties. Fees can be paid on an hourly basis, flat fee or percentage of the estate's value. Oftentimes, family members feel awkward accepting payment; however, managing wills probate can be time-consuming and emotionally draining. Even small estates with few assets can require 60 to 80 hours of work.
Unless a will is placed within a trust, it must be probated. This process involves taking inventory of assets, obtaining property appraisals, paying outstanding debts, negotiating with creditors, and submitting various forms and documents to appropriate agencies such as Medicare or Social Security Administration.
Once affairs are in order, the Administrator must provide documentation to a probate judge. The judge will review the case and authorize distribution of assets to named beneficiaries. The administrator is responsible for filing a final tax return on behalf of the decedent within nine months from the date of death.
If taxes are owed, the estate must include full payment with the final return. Penalties and late fees will be assessed if the tax return does not meet the deadline. Oftentimes, administrators will hire an accountant to ensure tax returns are correct.
Techniques exist to keep assets out of probate or avoid probate altogether. Our wills probate article library offers informative estate planning articles to help individuals make informed decisions.
Probate is a time consuming and costly process that isn't always necessary. We encourage you to browse our library to discover available options. New articles are frequently added, so take a moment to enter your email address in the subscription box on the right side of this page. You will receive instant notification when new articles are published.