Most people have heard the word “probate” and some might actually know what it is. Our blog this month is designed to give details about the process. This is not necessarily an enjoyable topic, but it is very important and informative. Although few people ever want to experience probate, it is much easier to handle if you are aware and prepared for it.
Probate is the court-supervised process of transferring the assets of a deceased individual to those who are entitled to receive them. In short, it is the system of a court ensuring the will is handled properly and the wishes included in the will are completed appropriately.
The process can be costly and frustrating, but I believe it is in your best interest to be informed in advance of actually working through it. Here is a short summary:
The first step is to find the original will
Copies are not acceptable
Find any codicils or personal distribution documents that might have been created
Submit the will to the court
In most cases, you need an attorney to do this
The court will name a personal representative to handle the details
Most judges will accept the person named for that role in the will
If there is no will, the judge will need to appoint a personal representative
Various documents will need to filed with the court
Again, the attorney can handle this for you
The Personal Representative needs to:
Create a list of all assets and all debts
Determine the rightful heirs of remaining assets/possessions
Open a checking account for the estate
Collect any continuing income and pay all debts
Share a summary report of assets with the court and potential heirs
Liquidate or distribute all assets
Provide a final accounting of all transactions
Close the estate
In the State of Wisconsin, the probate process is often completed in less than 18 months but never less than 6 months. Some complex cases might take years to finalize.
An estimated cost of probate is 3-8% of the estate’s value. This amount includes court costs, personal expenses, attorney fees, and more.
Although the probate process is not enjoyable, it can be managed fairly well with the assistance of a good attorney. Don’t be fearful of hiring a lawyer to help you.
It is also possible to create a plan that is designed to avoid probate. Again, a good estate-planning attorney can guide you through the process to create an estate plan that gives you the results you want without going through probate.
My role is to help you get organized and provide various resources that will make it easier to create a quality estate plan. Contact me at email@example.com to learn more or set up a time to talk.
Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more about various ways in which you can support the Foundation and help more families realize a KML experience is possible for them.