The death of a loved one is always hard. However, when that loved one leaves behind an estate, it can be challenging to know what to do and who to turn to for help. So many things need to be done before probate begins, and the process can cause stress and anxiety for those who have just lost their family member or friend.
If you are amid probate, it is essential to remember that you are not alone. There are resources available to help ease some of your stress and anxiety so you can focus on healing.
Table of Contents
Do You Need To Go Through Probate When Someone Dies?
The first thing you should know is that not every estate requires probate. Some types of assets pass to heirs without having to go through the legal process of probate, including:
Estate planning documents: Any property or monies left in a will or trust do not require any additional paperwork after the death certificate has been filed.
Jointly owned assets: If an asset was held together by your loved one and someone else, then that person automatically inherits the entire account’s value without having to go through probate court.
Life insurance: Assets owned by life insurance policies are distributed to beneficiaries after the death certificate is filed, so there is no need for probate.
Retirement accounts: When an adult has named a beneficiary on their retirement account, those funds pass directly to that person without having to go through probate court. However, suppose your loved one did not name a beneficiary or designated multiple people as primary and secondary beneficiaries. In that case, it may be necessary to file paperwork with the plan administrator for you to access these assets.
Understanding how the process works may help ease some of your anxiety and stress. For instance, hiring a Roseville Probate Lawyer can better explain the process and your rights as a beneficiary. Your lawyer can also help safeguard any assets you inherit from the estate while providing professional legal advice about handling these issues efficiently.
Steps To Handle A Loved One’s With Probate
While it can be a morbid and challenging topic to discuss, it is essential for you and your loved ones to talk about what will happen if something happens. Whether or not there is a legal battle over the deceased’s estate, it is essential to have a plan.
Planning for your loved one’s death can help you reduce the stress caused by their untimely passing and ensure that any legal issues are handled efficiently.
Here are some steps that should be taken immediately after someone dies:
- File a death certificate to avoid delays when dealing with the probate process.
- Secure all personal records and valuables like bank statements, deeds, or titles for any property your loved one owns, etc. This will prevent anyone who does not have authorization from gaining access to these items before you can get them secured in another location.
- Notify creditors and close credit card accounts so that no additional charges are added against assets belonging to the estate.
- Contact essential people such as banks, insurance agents, and employers so they know about your loved one’s passing and how it may affect their products/services/benefits (i.e., life insurance policies).
- Gather information related to real estate, bank accounts, investments, stocks, and bonds.
- Keep items that hold sentimental value so your family can decide together what to do with these later down the road.
- Notify beneficiaries of life insurance policies and retirement benefits, so they know how their inheritance will be distributed without going through probate court.
- Prepare all paperwork associated with the estate (i.e., death certificate; proof of address; social security number). If you are unsure where this information is located, it may be best to hire an attorney specializing in probate law. This way, they can help ensure everything is done correctly while also protecting your interests as a beneficiary or loved one.
How Long Does It Take To Settle The Estate?
It is difficult to predict how long it will take for an estate to be settled. Some probates may require a small amount of paperwork, and others could quickly become more complicated than expected.
Typically, the process can take a few months to over a year, depending on the size of the estate. Some factors that may affect the outcome are whether there are any court proceedings, which the estate’s executor is, and if a trust was set up.
Consider hiring a probate lawyer to help you navigate the legal process and maximize your chances of getting everything done as efficiently as possible.
If there is going to require court proceedings, it may take longer for an estate to be settled since they can last several months or even years, depending on what details are needed to make the proper distribution decisions.
If there was a will when your loved one passed away, this means they did not create any formal trust during their lifetime, so you would need to do so after they die. A trustee should be chosen carefully since they can control all assets within the trust until it comes to distribution (i.e., designated beneficiaries).
Many people choose family members as trustees because they feel more comfortable managing these types of decisions while ensuring transparency throughout the entire process.
Dealing with probate when a loved one passes away can be a very stressful process. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to help alleviate the pressure and make sure everything is done properly, so your family does not have to go through this challenging time alone.
If you need additional support or guidance that an attorney specializing in probate law may be able to provide, contact them today! They will be happy to assist you with anything they possibly can while protecting your interests throughout the entire legal process.
Featured Photo by Melinda Gimpel on Unsplash