Scales of Justice

Top Three Secrets of Probate Administration

Probate administration refers to the management and distribution of assets affiliated with a recently-deceased individual and the directives they outlined in their Last Will and Testament. The administration of probate entails filing the decedent’s Will in court, overseeing the notification of beneficiaries identified in the Will, itemizing the estate’s assets, paying debts and any taxes that may be owed, and ultimately distributing the decedent’s assets to their surviving loved ones. These are the core tenets of probate administration, but there are certain aspects of the probate administration process that are not very well known. Let’s discuss three lesser-known elements of probate administration you should be aware of. 

Attorneys Sometimes Send Families to Probate When It’s Not in Their Best Interest

Unfortunately, there are instances where a family is needlessly forced to endure the bureaucratic and time-consuming process of probate because drafting a Will is far less time-intensive than creating a customized estate plan featuring a living trust and other elements that would enable a family to circumvent probate altogether. 

You may ask yourself, “what exactly is a living trust?” Well, it is by far the most straightforward way to avoid probate administration. A living trust is an alternate option available to anyone who wants a more flexible estate document relative to drafting a Will. 

When you create a living trust, it provides you the option to place your assets and property within the trust. A trustee then manages those assets for the benefit of your beneficiaries. If you have a living trust set up, it will effectively enable you to avoid probate entirely because the property and assets are already distributed to the trust. In contrast, a Will is simply a document that stipulates how to distribute your assets when you pass away.

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A Will Does Not Necessarily Avoid Probate

Another reason to consider establishing a living trust with your inheritance lawyer as opposed to drafting a Will: the mere existence of a Will does not offer the option to avoid probate administration. For example, even if a loved one took the time to draft a Will, it does not mean they drafted the document correctly or in accordance with relevant state law. There may be any number of issues that arise which could trigger probate, even if the Will document indicates probate is to be avoided if at all possible. 

Probate will likely be required if it turns out the Will was improperly drafted, legally invalid, or there is a Will contest that succeeds in court.

Heirs are not liable for the debts of the deceased

A lesser-known fact about probate administration is that heirs are not liable (i.e., responsible) for paying the debts of the decedent. In fact, it is the legal duty of the estate executor to pay off any outstanding debts from the estate during the probate process. However, you may be on the hook for repaying a debt if you own any part of the debt, you received substantial benefits from the debt itself (as in the case of a loan used to pay your personal living expenses), or you cosigned on a loan that needs to be repaid. 

Contact Codi M Dada for Probate Assistance!

The probate process can be significantly more difficult if your loved one doesn’t have an estate plan in place. As your probate lawyer, Codi M. Dada will provide the guidance you need to make distributing assets easier. If you’re near Novato, CA, or the surrounding areas, then consider calling for more information. Consider calling today if you’re near Novato, CA, or the surrounding areas. Receive your free initial consultation now.

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