Probate answers questions your loved one leaves behind
After someone dies, there are many steps loved ones must take before they can move on with their lives. Naturally, this includes making plans for a funeral or memorial, and it certainly involves taking time for the grieving process. However, one part of closing one chapter and opening another is the probate process. For many people, the thought of probate brings nothing but bad feelings.
Why is this? Why do so many have such a negative opinion of probate? Often, it is because they do not really understand what it is for and why it is important. On the other hand, there are some very valid reasons you may be hoping to avoid the long and complex process.
What’s the purpose?
Through the probate process, a Florida court evaluates your loved one’s estate to determine several important facts by answering the following and other questions:
- What are the assets the deceased left behind?
- What is the value of the assets in the estate?
- Did the deceased truly and legally own those items?
- Did the deceased leave a will?
- If so, did he or she make the will in a state of mental clarity?
- Was the will executed legally and without coercion or undue influence?
- Did the deceased name someone to administrate the estate, or should the court appoint someone?
- Are there any debts the deceased left that the estate must satisfy?
- Who and where are the heirs to the estate?
As you can see, distributing the assets in an estate is only one small part of the process, and it cannot happen until the other steps are complete. It often takes several months, but when it is over, the above questions have their answers.
Why all the negative press about probate?
What is it about this process that makes so many eager to avoid it? First of all, the amount of time probate takes often leaves loved ones in a state of limbo. You cannot clean out your parents’ house or sell any of the property until the court gives its approval. Additionally, if you are hoping for an inheritance and your loved one did not place that bequest in a trust, you will be waiting for some time before you can claim it.
The next problem with probate is the cost. Part of the process involves paying the deceased’s final taxes, and it may involve federal estate tax, depending on the size of the estate. Fees for the administrator, legal assistance and maintaining the estate during probate may eat into an inheritance, but once the process is over, you and your family can begin to heal and move forward.