The death of a loved one is often an extremely difficult time. Working through all of the necessary details, coupled with the added stress of dealing with the probate process, can be overwhelming for many. It’s very common for an estate to go through probate, the court-supervised process by which property is passed from a decedent (someone who has died) to the people who are entitled to inherit it. But while probate is common, it can be daunting for someone who’s never been through it before. There are, however, a few things you can do to make the probate process easier.
Educate yourself on the basics of the probate process
It’s always easier to accomplish a task when you understand it. Familiarizing yourself with how probate works should help you to navigate the process more easily. In general, the court names an executor, or administrator, of the estate which may be stated in the will or assigned by the court if there is no will. It is then the responsibility of the executor to carry out the probate process. Their important duties include tasks like filing appropriate court documents, assessing and distributing the estate’s assets and paying any debts or taxes owed on the estate. If you have been named as an executor, it is essential to speak with an attorney to review the process in detail.
The probate process can be made much easier for your loved ones if you plan ahead. In that respect, one of the most important things you can do while you are living is to prepare a will. This important document will detail your specific wishes regarding the settlement and distribution of your estate and will allow you to name a responsible executor that you trust to carry out those wishes appropriately. On the other hand, if you pass away without a will the state will decide how things get distributed.
Additional ways to make probate easier would be to designate a beneficiary on your accounts, or create a trust that will directly pass certain assets or property to a specific beneficiary without probate. In addition to preparing your own estate, it is also wise to speak with family members to make sure they also have a plan in place, especially if you are to be tasked with carrying out their wishes.
Work with an experienced probate attorney
Working with a qualified attorney, like the team at Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton & Van Donselaar, Ltd., can make a big difference in navigating the probate process. In terms of your own assets, an attorney can help you prepare your estate for your heirs through smart will preparation, setting up a trust, establishing joint ownership of assets and more. Each person’s situation is different and our attorneys will help prepare a personalized estate plan that meets your individual needs.
Our attorneys also provide valuable guidance for executors and others involved in completing the probate process following the death of a loved one. It can be a complex process and many questions will likely arise along the way. Our decades of experience will help to ensure your peace of mind throughout this difficult time. Contact us at 847-223-1500 to learn more or to schedule a consultation.