Probate is a word that people tend to associate with something negative. It is the legal process a will goes through that proves its validity and then oversees the administration of an estate. It is not something to fear, as it is something the court uses to protect the wishes of the deceased. Many myths continue to overshadow probate. Learn what is right and wrong about the process.
Myth: Having a will means skipping probate
Probate is a process almost every will must go through. It is something that ensures property left by the deceased goes where intended. Upon opening probate, the executor gives an accounting of the assets and debts of the deceased. The assets first go to pay bills, and what remains goes to the heirs in the will. Once nothing remains in the estate, probate closes.
Myth: No will means the government gets the estate
Dying without a will does not mean the money goes to the state. Instead, an investigative process begins whereby possible heirs may stake a claim to the estate. Dying intestate means that the method for disposing of property and money goes first to the relatives with the most direct bloodline or ties, such as children and spouses, and then next to others further down the line.
Myth: The oldest child becomes the executor
With or without a will, the court does not automatically appoint the oldest child administrator of the estate. The court will respect the administrator named in the will unless there is good cause to remove him or her. If no will exists, a spouse is usually first given the responsibility.
Understanding the probate process plays a significant part in preparing for it.