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    When your loved one passes away, the last thing you want to deal with is a confusing legal process. For many grieving family members, the days following their loved one’s death may be the first time they ever hear the word “probate”. Although most don’t understand it, probate is a long yet vital process. With that in mind, it’s crucial for you to research probate and how it interplays with an individual’s estate plan.

    How Does Probate Work?

    Probate is the legal process in which the court appraises a deceased person’s (or decedent) estate and divvies it up to pay off the decedent’s debts or bequeathals. Contrary to popular belief, an estate is not the heirs’ to take until the decedent’s debts are paid. Because of this, it’s important to help the probate process move as quickly and smoothly as possible.

    Upon a person’s death, their estate enters probate. The estate is assigned an executor if the decedent had a will, or an administrator if they did not. The court-appointed administrator is responsible for collecting, appraising, and distributing assets. Once the administrator or executor assesses the decedent’s remaining financial responsibilities, the court uses assets to pay off debts. Heirs receive their inheritance out of the remaining estate assets. Oftentimes, the probate process can take up to a year.

    How Can My Estate Avoid Probate?

    Probate is notorious for carving up an estate’s assets, leaving heirs with little else. If you wish to avoid probate, savvy estate planning is key. Although wills provide guidance that can often help probate move more quickly, the decedent’s estate is still vulnerable to debts and other probate-related charges.

    Living trusts are the only estate plan that can circumvent the probate process, allowing heirs to inherit the full value of their inheritance. With a living trust, an individual can transfer their assets into the name of the trust, protecting them from probate. When the individual passes away, their assets remain under the trust until the trustee (the person in charge of the trust) transfers them to the intended heirs.

    Probate Document Assistance in the Inland Empire

    Probate is complicated and lengthy, but you don’t have to go it alone. With help from a ProSe Legal LDA, you can file your probate documents correctly the first time, saving you time and money.

    If you are currently struggling through the probate process, today or call (909) 497-1349 to schedule your appointment!