What is probate?
Probate is a court-supervised process with two goals; (1) to pay all outstanding debts of the deceased, including any federal and state estate or income taxes; and (2) to transfer a deceased person's assets to the beneficiaries named in the will (or to legal heirs, if there is no will). This process protects the rights of creditors and beneficiaries of the estate. It ensures that once property is transferred to heirs or beneficiaries, it is free from any creditors' claims and any liens for estate or income taxes.
Are all wills subject to probate?
Yes, if property in excess of $10,000 passes under the provisions of the will.
How much does probate cost?
By most estimates the probate process generally costs an amount equal to 3 - 5% of the assets of the estate. Such costs include attorneys fees, personal representative fees, bonding, publication and filing fees. If your will is contested, the costs may be much more.
Will an attorney be necessary to probate my estate?
In a formal probate proceeding, it is necessary to have an attorney to represent the personal representative. In other types of probate, an attorney is not formally required. The staff of the county Register in Probate can help you obtain and prepare tile correct forms; however, they cannot evaluate your case or offer legal advice.
Can I avoid probate?
Yes. The most popular method of avoiding probate is by the use of a revocable living trust. By having your assets pass to your beneficiaries under a revokable living trust rather than under a will, you can avoid probate and save the costs of the proceeding.
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