What is Probate?
Probate is the process that results after the death of an individual, where all the affairs regarding the individual’s assets and liabilities are resolved. A probate court will supervise the collection of all of the individual’s assets, liquidating liabilities, paying necessary taxes, and distribution to creditors and inheritors.
Intestate Probate (No Will)
When a person dies without a valid Will that person is said to be Intestate. Without a Will, the probate process through the probate court system is more time-consuming and more expensive than when a deceased person has a Will, termed Testate.
When a person is without a will (Intestate), the court having jurisdiction at the time of death must receive a Probate Petition, and will appoint an Executor to administer all the affairs of the estate of the deceased. Through this method, the legal system decides how your estate will be distributed. These issues include, but are not limited to, the following types: taxes (State, Federal, Income, Gift, Inheritance, Property, among others), notices (to all parties associated with the estate of the deceased), creditors, debtors, inheritors, family members, and others.
Common among intestate estates, duplicate claims are filed for debts, taxes, and challenges by family members or other would-be inheritors who want a share of the estate. Under these conditions the probate and estate administration processes can be lengthy and expensive, thereby rapidly depleting the assets in the estate. When the estate is of substantial value, various parties often file additional lawsuits to make claims on the estate.
Different laws govern the probate process within each state, as well as the requirements for a Last Will and Testament to be legally valid. Even once a person creates a Will, a Will can be determined invalid by a probate court by several means including an improperly prepared Will or valid challenges by creditors or others.
Due to the competing claims for the assets of the intestate estate, assets are easily consumed by the probate process, leaving little for inheritors. Therefor, the Executor is often a probate attorney or at least engages the services of a probate attorney in order to resolve the debts, taxes and inheritance challenges that arise in an intestate probate situation.
Protection from Intestate Probate
To protect assets from the rigors of an intestate probate, Smith & Shapiro works with asset owners to find an estate planning solution that best fits the needs of the asset owner. For small assets and estates, a properly prepared Last Will and Testament may suffice. For larger estates or those that involve businesses, a Trust may be more appropriate. In all cases, an estate plan should be created prior to the death of the estate owner to ensure the safeguarding of an estate and the desired transfer of assets to inheritors.
Call Smith & Shapiro today to get started. (702) 318-5033
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