Probate court is a specialized court that handles matters related to estate administration. Probate deals with the legal process of managing a deceased individual’s debt and assets, as well as the distribution of those assets. Common legal matters include wills, conservatorships, guardianships, and the distribution of real estate, money, and personal property. Whether or not an estate must be probated depends on whether the deceased has estate planning documents in place and what those documents are.
A lack of estate planning documents means the court will decide how the deceased’s assets are distributed. If you are not the next of kin, you have no legal right to the assets, and therefore must go to probate court to claim assets for yourself.
Even a will may not be enough to avoid probate. The court will have to decide if the will is valid, and even if it is, the court may not necessarily follow the deceased’s wishes. A child or sibling who feels slighted may contest the will, and it is possible the court will rule in their favor.
An effective way of avoiding probate court, and the costs associated with it, is with a trust. A trust is a legal entity funded with an individual’s or trustor’s assets, such as property, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and personal items, and a designated person or business entity known as a trustee, will then distribute those assets to beneficiaries. In most cases, a trust does not have to be probated, and this makes it an effective tool for avoiding conflict within the family. A no-contest clause can prevent family members from contesting the trust, causing any who do to be disinherited.
If you are interested in estate planning and avoiding the costs and stresses of probate court, give Entrusted Estate and Asset Protection a call at 248-781-8338 to schedule a free consultation. We are here to help you with all your estate planning needs.