The intervention of a probate court might be necessary in your estate if you don’t discuss your options with an estate planning lawyer beforehand. Certain assets, such as real estate and vehicles, require particular documents in order for the title to pass. If the owner has passed away, the only way for someone to pass on that title is through a formal court proceeding and resulting order.
If you pass away with no will, all the assets inside your estate outside of those placed in trusts or managed through beneficiary transfer will go through probate administration. Each state has their own laws about how decisions regarding beneficiaries are made. The typical process for intestate administration includes:
- Starting the case in probate court
- The court confirming that no will exists and then appointing an administrator
- The administrator starts their administrative tasks like gathering all the assets inside the estate and notifying creditors
- The administrator pays out debts and taxes after liquidating the assets
- The proceeds left over from the debt and tax payment process are then distributed to heirs of the estate in accordance with a schedule outlined in statutes
One of the biggest challenges with the process of intestate administration is that once you have passed away, you have little to no influence over what happens to your belongings. Talking to a lawyer, on the other hand, gives you the option to articulate what you’d like to see happen to your belongings.
With no estate plan in place, the administrator of the estate has no obligation to follow through on any of the requests you might have had in relation to your estate management. Even if you verbally expressed these to the person officially appointed as administrator, he or she does not have to ensure your estate meets these terms.
This is especially important if you wanted to include non-family members in your estate. An estate administrator might not know or be willing to honor that promise you made to an old friend about a certain piece of property; more than likely, the administrator will face pressure to liquidate that asset and distribute the proceeds to your family members at outlined under statutes.
To ensure that your estate is managed in line with your expectations and wishes, talk to a dedicated estate planning lawyer today about the tools you can use, such as trusts and wills, to protect your interests for years to come.