Your Probate Questions Answered

If you resemble many people, you’ve heard the term, “probate, “but aren’t really sure what it implies other than it happens when someone passes away and lawyers are included. To bring some clearness to the subject of probate, we’re addressing typical probate questions below:

What is probate?
Probate is the court procedure of confirming the decedent’s will and settling the estate. The executor named in the will (or “administrator” if the decedent passed away “intestate,” implying without a will) gathers, protects, evaluates, manages, and, ultimately, disperses the decedent’s possessions and pays last debts and taxes under the supervision of the probate court.

As administrator, do I have to employ a probate lawyer or can I do it myself?
Legally, you can probate the estate without an attorney in some states. Practically, you need to hire a probate lawyer. The work is very technical and not intuitive.

The probate lawyer is paid from the estate, not from your personal funds. In addition, as executor you are personally responsible for the estate properties and settlement. If you mess up, you can be held liable and might lose your individual assets.
Probate attorneys are extremely informed and highly trained.

Why do people desire to avoid probate?
Many people seek to avoid probate because it’s public, costly, demanding, troublesome, and prolonged.

How can I prevent probate?
The following types of ownership prevent probate:

All possessions owned by a revocable living trust;
In addition, each state has a limit and possessions under that limit prevent probate.

If you have concerns about working as an administrator, probate, or preventing probate, make sure to seek advice from a certified estate planning lawyer.