Understanding Probate

If you recently lost a loved one, then you have a lot to deal with. It can be a little overwhelming, but you will likely need to think about their last will and testament in the immediate future. One important legal aspect of a will is probate. To help make the entire process go as smoothly as possible, here is an overview of the subject:

What is probate?

In simple terms, probate is a legal stamp of approval that is given to a will by a specific type of court. This stamp of approval indicates that the will is legitimate and that it does correspond to the wishes of the deceased. If a will has not been given probate, then it cannot be legally executed. Until probate has been given, you won't be able to effectively divide up the estate of the deceased.

Probate also has a second key component, which is the appraisal of the estate of the deceased and the deduction of debts and taxes from that estate.

Why is probate important?

The idea behind probate is that a will should be executed according to the wishes of the deceased. The probate process is meant to reveal any flaws with the will, such as tampering. If the probate court finds that the will was written under duress or modified against the wishes of the deceased, then the court will not grant probate to the will.

Probate is also important for repaying debts and taxes that the deceased owed. Without probate, creditors would have a very difficult time reclaiming debts where the debtor died. This would ultimately make it a lot harder to get loans in general, since probate provides security to creditors.

So how does the probate process work?

Most wills are entrusted to an executor, who is an individual that is responsible for carrying out the will and distributing the estate. The executor presents the will to a special probate court, which will determine whether or not the will is legitimate. Once they have made that determination, the estate of the deceased will be inventoried. Once taxes and debts have been deducted from the estate, it will be divided up according to the will. If there is no will or if the will was not granted probate, then the estate may be divided up according to the laws of the state. Each state has different laws, so you should check to see what the applicable laws are in your state.

To learn more, contact a law firm like Wood Patricia K Atty