While most people have heard of probate, they do not always know what exactly probate entails. You may hear that you should avoid it, but if you do not understand the process, can you understand whether you should deal with probate?
U.S. News & World Report describes the probate process as one where the surviving person gathers the will and other documents to start the process of distributing assets. Here is what you should know:
Gathering assets and debts
The personal representative is the person who helps to administer the estate. The decedent often names the personal representative of the estate before death or in the will. This individual has the responsibility of taking an inventory of all of the different assets. Once inventoried, he or she must assess the value of the assets, investment accounts, property and more.
After the valuation, the personal representative will alert all creditors. If the decedent owed creditors, the creditors could choose to collect from the estate. Commonly, creditors are credit card companies, mortgage lenders and others.
Estate and asset distribution
Once there is an inventory and the creditors have collected any debts, then it is time to handle the beneficiaries of the estate. If the person had a will, then you can begin the process to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries. In addition, the personal representative must file the decedent’s taxes.
The whole process can take time. While many people fear the process lasting years, it usually only lasts several months, depending on the complexity of the estate. In general, most of the timeline allows the creditors time to collect on any debts. An attorney experienced with estate administration and probate can provide knowledgeable guidance from the start.