The Probate Process Explained

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The probate process can be a headache when estates are not planned well. Uncover the probate process with 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

Probate is kind of a mysterious thing. Lots of people have heard the term probate, but really have no idea what the heck it is. They think it's this mysterious labyrinth process controlled by nameless, faceless judges, nameless, faceless lawyers. It can be like that, but usually it's not. Usually it's very straightforward. Simple is not a word I would use, but straightforward I think more accurately describes it. What probate is in its essence, is it's a couple of things. First and foremost, it's making sure that the debts of the deceased are paid. The deceased may have ended up with a debt on a home, a car, a credit card. They may end up owing taxes. The deceased's debts are paid before anything else happens. After the deceased's debts are paid, then probate really changes from a bill paying process to a title changing process. And so what happens is at the end of the day, the deceased's name comes off of the deceased's accounts. The deceased may have had a bank account. The deceased's name comes off of that account. That account goes into the name of the heirs. The deceased may own some real estate. A deed is issued taking the deceased's name off of the deed, putting the property in the name of the heirs. That happens with cars, again, bank accounts, investments, real estate what have you. So probate's two things: first, it's paying the debts of the deceased, second it's make sure the heirs get the property--the deceased's name comes off the asset, the heirs name goes on.

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