If you have recently lost a loved one, you may be wondering what probate is and if you need to go through the process. Here at Heritage Law Office, we have years of experience in administering probates, so read on to learn more about what probate is and when you would need to go through the process.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person. The purpose of probate is to settle the deceased person's debts and distribute their assets to their beneficiaries. In order to start the probate process, a petition must be filed with the court. Once the petition is filed, the court will appoint a personal representative to administer the estate.
The personal representative is responsible for gathering the deceased person's assets, paying their debts, and distributing their assets to their beneficiaries. The personal representative will also be responsible for filing any required tax returns and paying any taxes that are due. If the deceased person left a will, the personal representative will follow the instructions in the will. If there is no will, the personal representative will follow state law in distributing the assets.
Why Would I Need to Go Through Probate?
If you are named as a beneficiary in a decedent's will or if you are a beneficiary from a decedent who passed away without a will, you will likely need to go through probate in order to receive your inheritance.
There are some circumstances where assets do not need to go through probate. These scenarios are usually a result of estate planning. Some tools commonly used to avoid the probate process with pre-planning include trusts, transfer on death designations, life estates, and more.
What Does Probate Involve?
The probate process typically involves the following steps:
- Filing a petition with the court to open probate.
- Appointing a personal representative to oversee the administration of the estate.
- Collecting and inventorying the assets of the estate.
- Paying debts and taxes owed by the estate.
- Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will or, if there is no will, according to state law.
- Filing final reports with the court and closing probate.
The specific steps involved in probating an estate can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, if there is real property (e.g., a house or land) involved in the estate, additional steps may be required to transfer ownership of that property to the beneficiaries named in the will or, if there is no will, according to state law.
Why use a Probate Lawyer?
There are many benefits to using a probate lawyer, including:
- The peace of mind that comes from knowing that your loved one's estate is being handled by a professional;
- The ability to have someone on your side who is knowledgeable about the law and can protect your interests;
- The assurance that the probate process will be handled in a timely and efficient manner;
- The ability to avoid potential disagreements or disputes among beneficiaries by having a neutral third party administer the estate; and
- The knowledge that you are complying with the law and protecting your rights as an heir or beneficiary.
Contact a Probate Attorney in Wisconsin
If you have been named as executor in a will or are otherwise responsible for administering an estate, you may be wondering what exactly is involved in probating an estate and how you can go about doing it. The process can be complex and time-consuming, but Heritage Law Office can help make it as smooth as possible for you.
We offer services administering probates and have experience handling all aspects of probate from start to finish—including filing petitions with courts, appointing personal representatives, collecting and inventorying assets, paying debts and taxes owed by estates, distributing assets to beneficiaries, and more! Contact us today by sending us a message or giving us a call at 414-253-8500 to learn more about how we can help you with probating an estate!