Why does my estate need to go through probate if I have a will?

| Oct 27, 2020 | Estate Planning |

The probate process serves a basic but needed purpose. The court authenticates your will and legally transfers ownership of your assets to your intended beneficiaries after you die. 

Your executor typically presents your will to the probate court upon your death. Naming a trusted individual to serve as your executor reflects an important step in creating a will. As noted by U.S. News and World Report, your executor may need to assist in gathering up your assets and documents. 

What does the probate court do once it has my will?

A probate court judge typically oversees the process of passing on your property. This involves making sure that the distribution of your assets proceeds according to your will’s instructions. After your executor gathers your assets and has them valued, your estate pays any remaining debts, such as unpaid taxes or a mortgage. The remaining assets then pass on to your beneficiaries as described by your will. 

If you have any property or assets that you did not include in your will, the probate court distributes them according to state laws. As noted by the Florida Courts website, some assets that a decedent may not have noted in a will include a bank or an investment account, an annuity or a life insurance policy. 

May I arrange things so my heirs avoid probate?

Careful estate planning may allow you to effectively control the destiny of your property without requiring the probate process. Life estate deeds, for example, may enable property to pass on without probate. You may also assign designated beneficiaries to certain financial accounts so that they automatically belong to your heirs upon your death.