Kentucky – Indiana Probate Attorneys Answer Frequently Asked Questions
Whether or not a lawyer is needed for a probate depends upon the size and complexity of the deceased’s estate. If the estate is small and not complicated, you may be able to get through the probate process on you own. But, this is not advisable. There is an old saying, “Ignorance of the law is not a defense.” Often, people are unaware of the legal requirements and tax issues regarding an estate. This can quickly get someone in a mess unless there is a probate attorney to guide the process. Probate is complicated and driven by numerous laws and requirements.
How long does probate take?
Many estates are settled in 12 months. Some estates are more complicated and take longer. For small estates, there is a streamlined process that can be used.
Is there a simple probate for small estates?
There is a simplified probate procedure for small estates, although they still goes through probate court. These differ from state to state, as defined by state law. The value of an estate is often used to determine if a simplified probate is possible. There is often a waiting period before the probate court will allow this. If there was a will, in some states, it still must be filed with the probate court. To avoid confusion over which states and statutes apply to a particular probate, it is a good idea to consult with a probate attorney who can help sort out the details.
How can I file to be an executor of an estate?
Probate laws differ state to state. Each state, and often individual counties, has specific documents that must be filed before someone can be appointed as an executor. Notice must be published, and in some cases, a bond must be posted with the probate court. If minor children are involved, a separate proceeding may be required to receive the assets due to them. Certain statutory requirements of notice to potential heirs must be met before the probate court will approve the appointment of an executor.
Can probate be avoided by having a will?
When someone passes away, it is either intestate, meaning that person died without a will, or testate, meaning that person had a will. All wills go through probate. The probate process differs depending upon the existence of a will. If there was a will, the probate court must validate it. If there is no will, the probate process occurs with the laws of the state determining who gets the assets.
Can probate be avoided?
Yes, when someone with an estate plan or a trust passes away, legal documents already exist for the orderly process of transfer of the deceased’s assets to the beneficiary. But be careful! Titling assets in joint names to avoid probate can cause disastrous consequences. This is why you should consult an estate planning attorney before changing title to any assets.