Probate involves dispersing the assets of someone who has died to relatives and creditors the deceased might owe. In some wills left by the dead, there will be an executor who will handle the process from beginning to end to make sure all of the requests in the will have been carried out and taken care of. The executor will take a list of all the assets and have their worth estimated to determine how much can be gained from them in terms of money. They will be allowed to sell everything left behind such as cars, properties, personal items, and so on.
There are instances where the deceased did not write up a will and did not name someone to handle probate. In this case you would go to probate court and the judge will decide on maybe a friend or a family member to take care of the matter instead. This is typically the family member who will be receiving most of the inheritance like a spouse or child. This person is given the title of administrator.
There are many parts to the process starting with validating the will and sending it over to a judge to look at and verify. Typically there are witnesses when a will is written up and these witnesses, which are usually two, are called to court to give a statement under oath that they were there while the will was being written up. At this time details on all the assets are brought forward to the court. Creditors are notified that the person has died and that probate has started. Creditors have around half a year to collect the outstanding bills left by the deceased.
It’s important to note that money recovered by collectors is taken from the estate and not the family members. If all collectors are paid and there is left over property or money, this will be dispersed between the people who were mentioned in the will. In the event that the deceased’s estate can not cover all debts, the courts will do their best to allocate the money in the best way possible. Relatives are in no way responsible for settling these debts that arise from death. Sometimes probate doesn’t need to take place if there is very little assets to go around. These are usually settled between the family so long as there aren’t any big outstanding bills to pay. A way you can help prevent some of the trouble and confusion is to look into Elder Law. This involves helping people understand the issues concerning their estate as they age.