Whenever someone dies and leaves property to their loved ones, the court starts legal proceedings and supervises the payment to the heirs and payment of debts once the decedent (deceased person) dies. This is called probate.
When people die with a valid will, their property will usually be distributed (according to their wishes in the will) after the probate process.
When someone dies without a will, they die “intestate,” and the rules of that particular state direct how assets will be shared. For example, when the decedent passes with a will, their personal representative or executor has four years to file the will and start the probate process. If no one presents the will by this four-year deadline, the court assumes that the person died intestate (without a will). If a person dies with no will and there is no executor, the court will appoint an administrator; that appointed person will review the deceased person’s assets and debts, provide a written inventory of these items, and assist with the probate process.
The probate process is not necessarily easy or fast. It can take six months or longer to complete. For example, if a will is lost, contested, or bogus, the probate process can take even longer. The good news is that even during extended probate processes, beneficiaries may still have access to some funds like IRAs, insurance policies, bank accounts, etc. That’s because those funds do not go into probate and are distributed by the bank or firm that has them if an account beneficiary is named.
Whether you have a will or not, the probate process is extremely complicated. However, it can be easier if you have a competent and knowledgeable legal professional by your side who will explain the probate process. By hiring true professionals, like the staff at Ibekwe Law, PLLC, you can ensure that your assets are distributed to your loved ones, according to your wishes. Contact them today!