When a loved one passes away, probate court is often necessary and helpful in settling his or her final arrangements and distributing assets to any heirs named in a will. U.S. News notes that smaller, uncontested estates, those worth less than $70,000, usually have an informal probate process, which may help streamline the distribution of assets.
When individuals understand what to expect from probate court, they may feel more confident about each stage of the process instead of entering the proceedings blindly.
Probate property proceedings
While probate is not necessary for many assets contained in a will, it is often required for physical property with no written designation. This type of asset may include a variety of items, including:
- Family heirlooms
When a will does not specifically name an heir to such property, probate can help a family avoid unpleasant arguments by distributing it according to the laws of the state where the deceased resided. In this case, probate court is often a useful tool.
Who to expect at probate court
When probate court occurs in person, those present usually have an interest in the assets named in a will. This can include the heirs themselves, those who believe they have a claim to property or financial assets, creditors the deceased may owe and the executor or executrix of the will. In most cases, probate settles debt before any heirs can claim existing assets.
Trusts and documents that include named beneficiaries usually do not require the probate process. However, because each state carries its own regulations, anyone facing a probate hearing may want to review them before attending.