What Does a "Notice of Probate of Will" Mean? - person on a couch holding head in hand

What Does a “Notice of Probate of Will” Mean?

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“What does a Notice of Probate of Will mean?” Over the 40 years that we’ve been serving the Phoenix Valley, our lawyers at Phelps LaClair have been asked that question repeatedly. If you receive a notice of probate of will, it means you have an in interest in the estate of someone who has died. Simply put, probate is the legal court process that oversees the final distribution of assets, and payment of liabilities for a person who has died without a Living Trust or LLC. And the notice of probate lets you know that legal proceedings in which you have rights are about to begin.

The Process of Probate

The first step in the process involves submitting the will to the probate court. This is usually done by the executor or by a relative of the deceased. The court will determine if the will is valid, and if so, officially names or appoints an executor. The executor then sends the notice of probate to the designated heirs, and the process of distribution of the estate to the heirs begins.

If there is no will (a condition known as intestate), the court will appoint an estate administrator who will handle the duties of an executor. The heirs of the deceased will receive the notice of probate according to the laws of the state where the decedent resided. These laws will have already set forth the order of who receives the estate; i.e., spouse, children, parents, siblings, and so on.

Interested Parties

These are the beneficiaries designated in the will, or the heirs determined by the laws of intestate. The rights of the interested parties include the right to an accounting of assets, an inventory of the estate, and the right to contest the will. They also have the right to an accounting of all funds paid to creditors and all legal fees paid out of the estate.

Tax Burden

The estate must pay taxes on any income earned prior to the death of the deceased. It also must pay tax on any income earned by the estate after the death. That would include any dividends, royalties and interest on financial accounts. The value of an estate’s assets may also be subject to taxation, apart from income tax. The heirs of an estate may also have to pay income tax on anything they inherit.

How to Avoid Probate

Phelps LaClair has administered hundreds of estates over the years, and we know the intricacies of probate. With instruments like Living Trusts and LLCs, it’s possible to avoid probate altogether. And avoiding probate is a good idea, since your beneficiaries will save a lot of expense in court fees. They will also avoid the delay of distribution of assets that occurs when a will goes to probate court.

Do your heirs and yourself a favor: come see us and let’s plan together for a better, probate-free inheritance. At Phelps LaClair in the Phoenix Valley, we’ve been serving families for several generations. Let us help you establish a Living Trust that (among other benefits) enables beneficiaries to take immediate action on carrying out your wishes, without added probate fees. But either way, we’re here for you. If, as an heir of a will, you’ve received a notice of probate of will, we can confidently assure you we’ll walk you through the probate process and help carry the burden with you.

 

 

Images used under creative commons license (Commerical Use) 02/20/19    Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

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