If you use a last will to express your final wishes, you name an executor or personal representative. This is the person who will handle the business of the estate after you pass away. The executor is not going to be able to immediately distribute resources to the heirs to the estate. Before the heirs receive their inheritances, the will must be admitted to probate.
Probate can be briefly defined as the process of estate administration. There are a number of matters that must be handled during the probate process. One of these is final bills must be paid, which would include any tax responsibilities. Also, during the probate process, interested parties are given the chance to come forward seeking satisfaction of any claims.
Additionally, if there were any challenges to the estate, they could be presented during this time.
At some point, the executor will prepare the assets for distribution to the heirs. This can involve property appraisals and liquidation.
While probate provides certain protections, there are also some pitfalls that go along with it. As we stated previously, the heirs to the estate don’t receive their inheritances until after the estate has been probated and closed. This is not going to happen overnight, because probate can be a time-consuming process.
In some cases, this time lag is an inconvenience. In others, it can create genuine hardships for people who were depending on the decedent for support.
In addition to the time consumption, there are considerable expenses that can add up during probate, and this is another one of the pitfalls.
Is Probate Inevitable?
Now that we have provided some general information about probate, we can get to the question that serves as the title of this post. If you pass away in direct possession of your property, probate is going to be required in most cases.
There are however a couple of probate shortcuts that may be available. If the property that comprises the estate does not exceed $50,000 in value, it may be possible to avoid probate altogether through the execution of a simple affidavit.
There is also a simplified probate process for small estates that may be available under some circumstances.
Avoiding Probate in Grand Forks
If you want to facilitate asset transfers outside of probate, you can proactively implement probate avoidance strategies. There are various different estate planning vehicles that can be utilized to pursue this goal.
We can help if you would like to discuss probate in Grand Forks as well as the different probate avoidance strategies with a licensed attorney. Our firm offers free consultations to our neighbors in the greater Grand Forks area and throughout the Red River Valley. At the consultation we will answer all of your questions, gain an understanding of your wishes, and make the appropriate recommendations.
To request an appointment, send us a message through our contact page.