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Estate Planning_Probate

Probate

Probate is the legal process of opening an estate, proving a person's will to be valid (if applicable) and having a court supervise the distribution of the estate's assets.

The probate process is sometimes described as the process of distributing someone's assets after their lifetime. While asset distribution is part of probate, the entire process involves much more than the distribution of assets by a personal representive. In fact, asset distribution only occurs toward the very end of the process after many other steps have been taken.

    •    Gather information about decedent, their family, assets and estate plan

    •    Conduct initial inventory and secure property

    •    Forward the decedent's mail and email

    •    Notify Social Security Administration and retirement plan administrator

    •    Hire an attorney

    •    Petition court to open a probate case

    •    Send and post notice to creditors, beneficiaries and heirs

    •    Determine value of estate's property

    •    Process creditor's claims

    •    Pay debts and expenses

    •    Determine amount of Medicaid lien, if any

    •    Distribute personal property as directed

    •    File tax returns

    •    Prepare final accounting

    •    Request court approval of final accounting

    •    Distribute remaining assets to beneficiaries

    •    Petition court to close estate

A will may be disputed for a number of different reasons, and that challenge can be based on a variety of different legal claims, including validity (an issue with document's text or execution), undue influence, duress and lack of capacity. Any dispute will delay asset distribution and increase expenses. A will dispute can consume all of the estate's assets, leaving the beneficiaries with nothing.

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