What is Probate?
Probate Administration is a court proceeding that generally lasts between 9 months and 1½ years. The basic purpose of a probate is to transfer assets from the dead to the living and pay all debts and taxes of the decedent before the assets are transferred to the beneficiaries. All legal requirements must be satisfied throughout the probate process before a court order will be issued directing the transfer of the estate to the rightful beneficiaries.
Does every Estate have to go through Probate?
Whether a Will or an estate must go through a probate proceeding will depend on the facts. Some Wills and estates will not have to go into probate because of the size of the estate and other factual circumstances.
The “Personal Representative” for the Will or the Estate
The Executor named in the Will acts as a Personal Representative for the estate, and if there was no Will, a court appointed Administrator will act as the Personal Representative. The Personal Representative is responsible for all aspects of the administration of the estate. Because of all the legal requirements involved in a Court Probate proceeding, most Personal Representatives will hire an experienced estate attorney to assist.
Probate Costs and Fees
Since Probate is a court process, court filing fees must be paid before a probate proceeding will be allowed to be filed in the court system. The court will appoint a probate referee to appraise the value of the assets in the estate and the probate referee will be paid a fee for those services from the estate. The fees awarded to the Personal Representative (Executor or Administrator) and to the attorney who represents the personal representative are set by law and based on the size of the estate. The larger the value of the estate the greater the fee.
Aspects of a Probate
Some of the aspects of a probate proceeding include: Appointment of a Personal Representative for the estate, filing of an Inventory and appraisement of the estate assets subject to the probate, payment of creditors and taxes, sale of assets, and distribution of the estate.