Probate may affect the 60-70% of Americans who have no estate plan. Probate may also impact those with no will, no trust, no legal documents whatsoever. If you are one of the 30-40% that do have an estate plan, chances are you have only a simple Last Will and Testament. You probably also think that’s sufficient for your situation. However, is it? So, what is probate? The FAQs below will help answer some of those questions in regards to probate and the importance of proper estate planning.
Probate is a legal process in which a court appoints someone, subject to a judge’s supervision, to manage a decedent’s estate, including paying the debts and distributing the property of the decedent.
A probate estate is the property owned by a person on his or her date of death that does not have a transfer on death, payable on death or other beneficiary designation
A legal process defined by a state statute that determines how the property of a person who dies without a will is distributed
No, in order for a will to effectively distribute the property of a decedent, it must be probated. Check out these videos to learn more about will vs. living trust.
On average, it takes 12-18 months to probate an estate. Any challenge to the validity of the will or distribution of the estate’s asset will substantially lengthen the time.
On average, probate costs between 3% and 5% of the value of the estate’s property. Any challenge to the validity of the will or distribution of the estate’s asset will substantially increase the cost
Yes, wills are only legally effective to distribute a decedent’s property if probated.
A will cannot be protected from probate. A decedent’s will needs to be probated if person dies with any property in his or her name in order for it to be legally effective.
A living trust is a legal entity, sometimes referred to as a revocable living trust, created by a person to hold title to his or her property in order to avoid the probate process.
A living trust allows you to avoid the necessity of the probate process by holding legal title to your property. Since your trust, and not you, holds title to your property at your passing, you do not have an estate subject to the probate process.
A health care power of attorney is a legal document which gives someone else the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf.
A durable power of attorney is a power of attorney which remain effective after the medically declared incapacity of the signer. A durable power of attorney is usually used for financial and property issues as part of a comprehensive estate plan.
No, all authority granted by a durable power of attorney ends with death of the signer. The authority granted by a health care power of attorney can continue after your death for the limited purpose of facilitating organ donation.
Yes, a durable power of attorney can be revoked at any time as long as you retain capacity. Generally, signing a new power of attorney revokes the prior version.
A document which provides your instructions for end-of-life medical treatment. An advanced directive can both instruct you agent to provide or withhold life-support technology.
An advanced directive is needed to communicate your wishes regarding end-of-life medical treatment when you are unable to speak for yourself. For example, it can indicate your preferences to your family to not use life-support technology in circumstances when you are unlikely to recover.
An advanced directive is only effective if you lack the ability to communicate your wishes and a doctor has declared that you have either a terminal or untreatable condition.