What Is a Probate?

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Do You Always Have to Probate a Will?....5

A major goal of estate planning is to avoid probate, when a court must remove one name from a legal deed and add another. Find out what probate is from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Part of the Video Series: Estate Planning
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Video Transcript

So what the heck is probate? People hear the word probate and, it's probably the most misunderstood thing that there is in the law. Everybody knows, or have been told, that the one thing you want to make sure you do is avoid probate. But people want to avoid it, and they don't know why. So here's what it is. Probate is a very simple thing. Probate is where somebody has passed away, and their name is on the asset. And we have to take their name off the asset, and transfer the asset to their heir. So somebody dies and their name is on the house deed. Well they can't sign the deed their dead. So we have to take their name off the deed and put the deed in the name of their loved one. So, the loved one can sell the house, live in the house, pay the taxes on the house, insure the house, pay the house payment, pay their property taxes, pay the insurance. That's what probate is. Off comes the deceased's name, on goes the heirs name. Simple. So what's the problem? Well the only problem with probate, frankly are courts and lawyers. Once we get them involved, it's going to be a lot more complex and in fact it is a fairly complex thing. What happens in probate the will gets filed, it gets published. In many places the wills are put on the Internet, because counties are trying to save money. In many places the assets of the deceased are required to be listed on the probate inventory, they're required to be filed with the court. Courts put the deceased's assets on the Internet. A lot of people find out about what the deceased died with. A lot of people look to the heir and...the heirs get beset by suitors and salesmen, things they don't want to have happen. Probate can cost money, people can fight. The alternative to probate is to do a fully funded living trust, that if it's done correctly will avoid probate and allow people to avoid the unnecessary costs, delay, and privacy concerns of probate.

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