Probate is the public process of paying off debts and distributing assets, either in accordance with the terms of a will or, absent a will, the state laws of intestacy. Although probate tends to get a bad rap, absent complications, it is actually fairly straightforward. It can take some time before assets reach beneficiaries though. Here’s the deal.
Conclusory Step In Probate
Perhaps partially because grief is usually involved, stories about going through probate are sometimes inaccurate. The legal terminology can be tricky and celebrity mishap headlines add to confusion. Ordinarily, though the public process of probate does require a commitment of time and diligence on the part of the designated personal representative, probate is simply a formal way to ensure the affairs of the deceased are brought to closure properly. To that end, the distribution of assets happens last in the process, as Chambliss explains:
The final distribution of assets is a conclusory step in the probate process before the court closes probate. When an estate goes through probate, the personal representative must satisfy all debts, and the court must resolve all disputes before allowing the beneficiaries to receive the assets. The court transfers ownership of the assets to the beneficiaries during the final distribution of assets.
More information about the probate process is available right here. Keep in mind that It’s common for probate court judges to request the designated personal representative to secure a probate bond. Simply put, a probate bond is a type of fiduciary bond that protects the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries in accordance with state law until the probate process is completed. Learn more about probate and other fiduciary bonds right here. Colonial Surety makes it easy and speedy to obtain digital probate bonds which fulfill the specific requirements of courts in every state. At Colonial, the steps to obtaining probate bonds, as well as personal representative, administrator and executor bonds, are easy:get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Then, just print or e-file the bond right from your home or office—even while at court.
The Role Of Lawyers
Ideally, long before it’s time to participate in the probate process, a family has put a solid estate plan together, which will greatly curtail the stress of bringing closure to the affairs of the decesased. Using a lawyer to create an estate plan is not required by law, but generally makes a lot of sense. If it is a goal to avoid the delays and public nature of probate, working with an attorney on an estate plan can be particularly useful. Legal experts at JD Supra offer this advice:
An estate planning attorney can help you identify the legal tools and strategies that suit your needs, as well as draft the necessary documents, such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney….As professionals helping people make future arrangements, estate planners are attorneys who focus on end-of-life preparations. Estate planning attorneys assist people with drafting legal documents and understanding laws and taxes that could affect them and the loved ones they will leave behind…. These attorneys can help you avoid probate. Probate, the process by which the court oversees the distribution of assets in a will, can be expensive and time-consuming for surviving family members. It also opens the door for disgruntled people to challenge the validity of the testamentary document, further complicating asset distribution. An estate planning attorney could help you organize your assets to transfer outside of probate to make the transfers simpler, easier, and less vulnerable to challenges.
It will come in handy to know that some states, including New York and New Jersey, refer to probate court as surrogate court. Remember, whenever the Surrogate Court or Probate Court in any state requires a bond, Colonial Surety makes bonding easy and speedy.
Across the country, lawyers find that partnering with Colonial Surety speeds up the process whenever courts require bonds. Our online fiduciary bond portfolio includes: administrator, estate, executor, guardian, personal representative, probate, surrogate, trustee, conservator and more.
Colonial’s direct, fully digital, user-friendly system reduces the time, hassle and expense typically associated with antiquated bonding processes. For even more value added service, lawyers are invited to sign up for The Partnership Account® for Attorneys—a free business service that enables attorneys to easily coordinate, view, complete and e-file the court and fiduciary bonds clients need. Increase your efficiency—and lower costs for clients. See for yourself today:
Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a direct writer of a wide range of bonds and insurance products. Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, US Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA.