When a loved one dies, there are many complicated decisions that must be made regarding their debts and assets. Hopefully, the deceased considered this and created a will, a trust, and named an executor before they passed.
When a property owner dies, all of their assets are counted and considered in probate court. Their “estate,” as it is now called, is poured over by lawyers and judges trying to find who the new legal owner of the property is. Debt collectors, for instance, are notified when the property owner has died and have 90 days to contact the probate court. One of the court’s many jobs is to ensure the estate pays these debts before any remaining property changes hands.
A Will, A Trust, And An Executor
A will helps organize this chaos by providing instructions on where and to whom the assets should go. An executor is someone the deceased assigned to distribute their estate after they passed. A living trust is a way of bypassing the probate process entirely by transferring certain assets directly to an individual. This can also be done by naming beneficiaries for things like savings accounts and retirement plans.
The entire probate process is not always necessary. If the estate’s net value is valued under $50,000, a simplified version of probate can be offered. This is also possible if the assets are bank accounts totaling less than $12,500 or if the probate estate is worth $500 or less. If the estate does not meet these qualifications, however, full probate procedures will be necessary.
A Small Estate
If the estate’s total value is less than $50,000, or the other qualifications above are met, a simple affidavit is all that’s required for an inheritor to claim the personal property of the deceased. The inheritor must simply complete a document in which they swear under oath that they are entitled to a particular asset. They can then provide this affidavit plus the death certificate to the institution that holds the property (for instance, a bank that holds an account), and the asset will be released to them. Probate court is generally for larger estates, and the process can be streamlined if the estate or asset is small.
For information and advice on estate planning or probate court, call The Law Offices of Rusty Williard at (601) 824-9797.