Probate is a legal process that aims to confirm the authenticity of the deceased person’s last will and testament and ensure that all of the assets are distributed as intended. And, while the process varies by state (for example, probate proceedings in Nevada may differ from how probate laws work in Florida, it is still the only way to become the rightful owner of real estate someone has left you.
You’ll find everything you need to know about probate in real estate below – from what it actually is, which factors affect the length of probate to what to do if there is no last will, and more. Continue reading to learn more about the subject.
What Is Probate?
In probate, a court-appointed executor mentioned in the will or administrator goes through the deceased’s assets and records to ensure that the will is valid. The executor is responsible for paying any taxes owed by the deceased, as well as debts and funeral expenses. The executor must also gather all the property, distribute it to the rightful beneficiaries, and close the estate.
If there is no will, then the probate process is called intestacy. If there is a will, but it doesn’t have a living person named as an executor, then a probate court appoints an administrator of the estate to handle everything. In most cases, the executor is given all of the assets that are not specifically designated for another beneficiary.
The executor must be able to prove that they’re trustworthy and that their decisions are reasonable and impartial. And if they earn fees from administering the estate, they must declare those fees in a final accounting of the estate in order to pay them back with the property of the estate.
Where Does Probate Occur?
A probate court oversees probate proceedings in each state. The court appoints someone to administer the estate, and then the administrator oversees the distribution of assets. In most cases, this person is an attorney who has experience with probate administration.
However, in some states, anyone can be appointed as an administrator, including a family member or friend. It’s up to the court to decide whether to allow non-attorneys to serve as administrators if there isn’t an attorney willing or able to do so.
How Long Does Probate Last?
The length of probate can vary significantly depending on how complex the estate is. It can take between three months and two years for everything in the estate to go through probate. And, if there is any litigation involved, it can take even longer.
The probate process can be complicated and time-consuming. For example, if you have a complex real estate situation involving several assets, as well as a number of people who should benefit from it, it could take longer than expected.
Moreover, if there are many creditors, it could complicate the matter even further because those creditors may want to be paid before any beneficiaries receive anything – and they’ll likely bring legal action against the estate.
If there is just one investment property in the estate, then it tends to go through probate quickly. However, if there are multiple properties (especially investment properties), it could take a long time. This is because there is more property involved, which means more work for everyone involved. And if there are other complicated issues in the estate, it could take even longer.
No matter how long it lasts, probate always ends when all assets are transferred to the beneficiaries and all debts are paid off.
What About Other Types of Legal Agreements?
Agreements other than a will have different rules for transferring assets after death, but their fundamental principles are generally similar to probate. For example, a trust – a legal agreement where one party agrees to manage assets for another party – is often set up during life and can be handled without going through probate after death.
But, if the trust doesn’t have specific instructions on how to handle all of the property (for example, what happens to assets that don’t belong to the trust), then it needs to go through probate as a regular will.
What Happens If There’s No Will?
If there is no will and no trust agreement at all (meaning that no one has been set up to manage your assets for you), then your estate will pass according to your state’s laws of intestacy – to your closest living relatives.
If you don’t have any family members left around when you pass away (for example, if you never got married or had children), then your property will go directly to your closest heirs under intestacy laws – meaning that you won’t get any say in what happens after you die (and no one else will get paid for helping you out either).
Probate is a legal process that deals with the distribution of assets after death. It aims to make sure the property goes to the people who are intended to get it and pays off any debts or taxes owed by the deceased person.
If there is no will or there’s no appointed executor, then it is called intestacy. Moreover, in most cases, if no executor is named, a probate court appoints an administrator of the estate to handle everything.
Probate is overseen in every state by a probate court. In some states, non-attorneys can serve as administrators, while other states require a lawyer to serve as one.
The length of probate varies significantly based on how complex the estate is. It can take between three months and two years or more for everything in the estate to go through probate. And, if there is any litigation involved, it can take even longer.