Estate planning and probate is a complicated, confusing, and intimidating area of the law. While having a set plan in place for your future is essential, many people are unaware of the legal processes necessary for doing so. To help you understand this legal area and get you started, the estate planning attorneys at Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC have answered a number of common questions we receive from clients.
What is probate?
In general, probate is the court procedure by which a will’s validity is proved, assets collected, creditors paid and the remaining assets distributed to beneficiaries under the will.
What is a will contest?
A will contest is a legal action that challenges the validity of a will and/or its terms. Will contests involve allegations that a will was inadequately executed, invalidated by a later will, or was the result of forgery or undue influence.
What type of assets are typically non-probate assets?
Non-probate assets can be transferred without oversight by the probate court. Some examples of non-probate assets are proceeds from life insurance policies, an IRA account, a 401(k) account or any other taxed deferred retirement plan account with a named beneficiary.
What role does the executor play in the probate process?
The executor is responsible for initiating the probate proceeding, collecting and inventorying assets, paying debts owed by the estate, filing and paying taxes, distributing assets to the beneficiaries, and closing the estate. Because of the numerous details and technical requirements that must be satisfied, attorneys experienced in probate and estate administration are often employed to guide the executor through the probate process. The executor is entitled to compensation for time and expenses spent during the process.
Are there ways to avoid the probate process?
There are several methods to use to avoid the probate process. These methods include creating a joint ownership with right to survival in property such as real estate, automobiles and other titled property; making beneficiary designations on accounts such as payable-on-death (POD) bank accounts and transfer-on-death (TOD) securities; and placing property in a revocable living trust. Your attorney can help you manage your property to avoid probate and to transfer property smoothly to your beneficiaries after your death.
What are the advantages of avoiding a probate proceeding?
The probate process can be slow and can tie up property anywhere from several months to several years. In addition, it can be costly since attorney fees, executor fees and court fees are paid out of the estate.
What happens to my property if I don’t have a will?
Every state has a set of default rules that determine how property will be distributed in the absence of a valid will (known as intestacy). If someone dies intestate, the property generally is distributed to a surviving spouse or domestic partner, children, parents, and other close relatives.
What is a revocable living trust?
A revocable living trust is a type of trust that takes effect during the testator’s life and can be changed or terminated at any time with the property returning to the testator. The testator also can retain control over the property in the trust by naming themselves as the trustee and naming a successor trustee to take over trust administration at the testator’s death. These trusts are often used as a means to avoid probate because the title of property is transferred to the trust and is not considered property of the testator at his or her death, thus making the property unavailable for probate.
Have additional questions? Call (855) 939-9111 or fill out a brief online form to connect with a member of our team!
He was at the top of his game when we had to go to court and fight for my rights.
"I want to write this testimonial about the law offices of Dayn Holstrom in Corona. Dayn has been my divorce lawyer through this process. He was at the top of his game when we had to go to court and fight for my rights as a father to have 50-50 custody. He was huge in helping to set the record ..."
I have been with Dayn on and off for over 20 years.
"I have been with Dayn on and off for over 20 years. He has helped me on many occasions for a variety of reasons. I found him to be very professional, knowledgeable, and helpful. I will continue to use his expertise in law whenever the need arises and would highly recommend him to friends."
You'll never understand the gratitude I have for you
"There are not enough words to demonstrate how much HBP and my attorney Kristen Holstrom mean to me. They have fought hard to get me to where I am in my case and have been open and honest from the beginning. I have never met a team that was more helpful in every aspect of my case. I considered ..."
Divorce is a difficult decision.
"Divorce is a difficult decision, but when looking for a divorce attorney I came across Holstrom, Block & Parke. Before making any decisions I decided to go to the court house and sit in on a divorce case. It just so happened, the attorney I was watching was Mr. Holstrom. I was able to see him ..."
I don't believe anyone other than Dayn could have protected my interests as well as he did
"I don’t believe anyone other than Dayn could have protected my interests as well as he did in my acrimonious divorce situation with his knowledge and a very strong presence in the court. I met Dayn at the time that my first attorney had failed at protecting my interests and the second one was ..."