What is Probate?

Probate is the court action filed to get an order to distribute property after one has passed away.

Probate is Important

When someone dies, they leave behind all of their property. They don’t take it with them. No one can. The property that is left behind can, in many circumstances, be distributed to the rightful heirs without Probate, but some property, such as a house, has a title which may require a court order to pass it on to another. For this purpose, we file a Probate Action in court to get the Court Order proving who now owns the house.

Many people don’t understand the implications of this. Imagine that you are buying a house. The seller is the son of the people you see on title. The seller assures you that his parents are both deceased and that he is the only heir. He even shows you the death certificates and a copy of the will that bequeaths the house to him. You would risk a lot to purchase the house from him under those conditions. What if, after you purchased the house, the sister shows up with a more recent will? What if the will was found to be invalid? Now you see the point. With a court order from a Probate action, you get an order from a judge giving you clear directions as to either who owns the property, or at least, who has the right to sell the property for the estate.

How will you know if you need Probate?

An estate will probably need to be probated if it is found in one of the following situations. 1. The deceased had no trust and one or more of the following: a) real estate; b) an estate worth more than $100,000 (not counting the value that has a lien against it); and c) more than four vehicles, boats, or trailers registered with the DMV; and d) creditors or other claimants of the estate don’t agree with you about how much they should get from the estate. 2. The deceased had a trust or other method of facilitating a transfer (such as through an LLC), but the trust or other method of facilitating the transfer was not fully funded with the estate leaving one or more of the property listed in the first situation to be dealt with. 3. Creditors or other claimants are requesting more than you believe they should receive from the estate. There are other times and purposes for which a Probate may be important. Consult with an attorney about the details of your situation.

Is there a time limit to Probate?

The time to file Probate is usually as soon as someone can gather the paperwork for the estate. This generally means a will and a death certificate. Some people put off Probate filing until too late. Though there are many nuances and exceptions to the time limits for a Probate case, three years after the decedent’s death the ability to get the results you want become increasingly difficult. Remember that three years is the magic number. Don’t wait until then.

Who can help me with Probate?

We recognize that if you are looking at this page, you are going through a lot. Let us help you relieve the stress by taking care of the legal work.

The Abbott Law Firm has been helping families for over 20 years. Call today to see what we can do to help your family in these difficult times. (801) 374-3000.