What is Probate?
If a person dies and owns any assets in his or her name alone (i.e not held jointly with another person), the family may need to use the court to transfer the property out of the deceased person’s name. The process of transferring property is called ‘probate’. Probate is done through the court to ensure that the transfer is done appropriately and in accordance with law. Certain assets, including property held jointly with another person and accounts with a beneficiary designation, do not require probate in order to transfer the property. It is advised that you contact a probate attorney in order to determine if a probate is necessary.
There are times when a probate is not necessary. If a person dies with less than $50,000 in assets and does not own any real estate, then something called an Affidavit of Collection may be used in lieu of probate to transfer any assets. Again, it is advised that you contact a probate attorney in order to determine if an Affidavit of Collection is appropriate for your situation.
It is a common misconception that if a person has a will, then a probate is not necessary. A will is the instruction manual that tells the court where the deceased’s property should go. Probate is still necessary to actually transfer the property to the parties identified in the will.
If a probate is necessary, the process will typically include the following steps:
Typically, the entire process takes anywhere from 5 months to 1 year, and sometimes longer. The length of time often depends on the court’s schedule, family cooperation, and various other factors.
The death of a friend or family member is an emotional, scary, and stressful time. An experienced probate attorney can help to ease some of this by walking you through the process and ensuring that all steps are completed. If you have questions regarding probate or otherwise relating to the death of a loved one, please contact Leslie Thielen, at Leslie@fremstadlaw.com or 701-478-7620.
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