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Probate is a court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid; in addition, probate refers to the legal process wherein the estate of a decedent is administered.

In a broad sense, probate refers to the entire process of administering a decedent’s estate. In a narrow sense, probate means to prove a document or oral declaration to be the decedent’s valid will.

The purpose of probate process is to collect the decedent's assets, resolve and pay any valid liabilities, including taxes and distribute the remaining property to the distributees of the estate.

Distribution of a Decedent’s Assets

The determination of the new owner of a person’s property upon death depends on two main factors – first, the type of asset and second, whether the decedent made a valid will. Certain property, commonly referred to as non-probate property, is controlled by the terms of the property arrangement itself. Examples of these arrangements include land held in joint tenancy with survivorship rights and contractual arrangements that specify the at-death owner such as life insurance and pay on death accounts at banks, savings and loan associations, and other financial institutions. The passage of the remaining property, the probate estate, depends on whether the decedent died after executing a valid will that disposed of all of the decedent’s probate property.

When a person dies without a valid will or dies with a valid will that does not encompass all of the person’s probate estate, the person’s probate property that is not covered by a valid will is distributed through a process called intestate succession. A person may die totally intestate, that is, intestate as to the person, if the person did not leave any type of valid will. A person may also die partially intestate, that is, intestate as to the property, if the person’s valid will fails to dispose of all of the person’s probate estate.

Common Reasons Why Individuals Die Intestate

The ability to specify the new owners of property upon death is an important and powerful privilege that each state grants to its citizens. However, surveys reveal that between 60-75 percent if Americans die intestate. Intestacy causes the decedent’s property to pass to those individuals whom the state government in its infinite “wisdom” believes the decedent would have wanted to receive the probate estate when the decedent died. None of the decedent’s family members or friends are allowed to present evidence to show that the decedent actually wanted property to pass to them or to a charity. A question that you might now logically ask yourself is “why would so many people not take full advantage of their ability to write a will?”

  • Lack of property
  • Unawareness of the importance
  • Indifference
  • Cost
  • Time and Effort
  • Complexity
  • Admitting one’s own mortality
  • Reluctance to reveal private facts

Don’t Put Your Family’s Future in the Hands of the Probate Court.

From the standpoint of probate administration, the most important step the estate planning attorney can take is to include the necessary provisions in the will to provide for an independent executor. By naming an independent executor, the client's estate will qualify for a simplified probate procedure, allowing the executor to operate “independent” of court supervision.

At The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC, our legal team has the knowledge and experience necessary to help you protect your legal rights. You can be confident that, if you choose to work with a Plano Estate Planning lawyer from our firm, we will do everything possible to ensure that your final wishes are firmly established.

Contact our firm today for a consultation.

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