Understanding Probate

When it comes to settling an estate, most people have heard that it is best to avoid probate whenever possible.  But how many people even know what it is?  It is a lot easier to navigate this issue when you have the necessary information, so here are the basics of probate.

Probate

Probate Defined

Probate is the legal process of a court validating a person’s will and distributing their estate after they pass away.  This can be a complex and lengthy process, especially if a will was never prepared prior to death or if there is a large estate involved.

The Probate Process

The court first names an executor, or administrator, of the estate which may be stated in the will or assigned by the court if there is no will.  It is the executor’s duty to prove validity of the will, as well as provide a list of the deceased’s assets and debts.  Creditors must usually be paid from the assets of the estate before the beneficiaries can receive anything, although there are sometimes exceptions to this rule.

Once all of the debts have been satisfied, necessary tax returns have been filed, disputes settled, beneficiaries paid and the estate closed, the executor’s role is complete.  There are many details involved in this process and help is often needed.  Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton has experienced probate and trust administration attorneys who can help you sort through these details in order to avoid further stress during a difficult time of loss.

Probate Causes Problems

The probate process can be very long, sometimes lasting for years.  Heirs can be left waiting for inheritances that they are counting on.  All fees and expenses get paid from the estate and can therefore significantly reduce the value of the estate over time.  And the process can cause stress on a family, sometimes even tearing families apart.

Avoid Probate

The best way to avoid the pitfalls of probate is through appropriate planning ahead of time.  Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton can prepare a will, set up a trust, establish joint ownership of assets and address many more estate planning issues in order to aid in the effective administration of an estate, whatever your situation may be.  Call us now at 847-223-1500 or visit grayslakelaw.com for more information.

See fully referenced articles HERE and HERE