Probate is the legal procedure that takes place just after the death of an individual. The process is where the validity of the decedent’s will is determined while someone, either friend or family, is designated as the estate executor. It is the job of the executor to manage the estate and distribute the assets within the estate according to the will of the testator. In case the deceased individual has not left behind any will, it will determine to whom and in what quantities the assets of the decedent need to be distributed.
Probate Lawyers Advise on Assets
Probate is crucial only for the property that was:
- Solely named in the name of the decedent. For instance the car or the property titled in the name of the deceased only.
- Property share owned in the form of tenants like the interest of the deceased individual in a storage facility owned with his or her brother in the form of investment.
Such properties are known as a probate estate. In case of assets that require the proceedings of a probate court, it is the executor who needs to take up the responsibility of getting in touch with a lawyer and opening the case in the court to get to a conclusion. Suppose there’s no will, or there is no executor in the will. It is the probate court that will appoint a certain individual as the executor. Either way, the in-charge individual can get the services of a probate lawyer for helping with court proceedings. He or she can pay the fee of the probate lawyer through the estate money.
Assets That Do Not Come Under Probate
There are several assets that do not come under it. In case the decedent was married and possessed all the property and assets jointly or did some kind of planning for avoiding the procedure, the proceedings of the probate court might not be required. Non-probate assets are:
- IRAs and 401Ks or all kinds of retirement account.
- Properties held in living trusts
- Securities registered in the form of TOD or Transfer on Death
- POD funds or the funds that are Payable on Death
- Co-owned savings bonds
- Pension plans
- Real estate property subject to TOD
- Salaries, wages and commissions due
- Properties held as community properties with rights of survivorship
- Properties held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship
- Boats and cars registered in TOD form.
- Household things and other goods going to the immediate members of the family.
- Vehicles going to the immediate members of the family under the laws of the state.
How do Lawyers Assist and Advise Estate Executors
Probate lawyers assist and advise the estate executors with the following when they represent the executor by indulging in the following:
- Identifying assets – both probate and non-probate.
- Preparing and filing all the documents needed to be presented in the probate court within the deadline.
- Obtaining the date of appraisals and death values of all the different properties.
- Collecting life insurance proceeds.
- Advising the executor on paying the final bills and the outstanding debts of the deceased.
- Rolling over and making proper elections in regards to all retirement plans like 401Ks and IRAs.
- Monitoring the estate’s checking account.
- Determining whether inheritance or estate taxes are due at state and federal levels. If so, assisting the executor in determining the cash for clearing taxes.
- Assisting the executor in addressing income tax problems.
- Settling disputes among the beneficiaries and the executors.
- Retitling the real estate of the deceased into the name of the beneficiaries in case the property is not being sold.
- Assisting with the sale of the estate property.
- Distributing everything left if the deceased’s property to the heirs after paying the taxes and bills.
- Requesting the permission of the court for different actions required as per probate laws existing in the state.
A lawyer possessing specialized experience and knowledge on working with estates, wills, and trusts will definitely help you in understanding the difference between assets that come under probate and the ones that do not. They also take up estate administration in the most professional manner.
Lawyers generally work in detailed areas of law. They help their clients in creating wills, planning their estates, and creating trusts as well. The lawyers represent estate assets while ensuring the will of the decedent is probated properly. They also help with the distribution of assets after the death of the testator.