With this upcoming Halloween season, particularly with the release of the movie It, there is a lot to be spooked by. While probate court might not be as scary as killer clowns, it certainly is something you’ll want to avoid at all costs.

So, What IS Probate?

Probate is a legal process and not a fun one, either. Probate is often referred to as “probate court” because the process is supervised by a court. Probate is what happens when a person dies without an estate plan. The court decides how to distribute your assets and debts, leaving you with no control.

You may think, “What do I care? I’ll be dead,” but remember that your family is going to be the most heavily burdened by probate. Avoiding probate court is a must.

What Does a Probate Court Do?

Probate court handles many other functions besides simple property distribution. Probate courts determine the executor of the estate, will authentication (if there is one), identification of beneficiaries, heirs, and/or decedents, payment of debts, and other important processes that you could avoid dragging your family into court for if you take the proper steps.

The probate lawyers do most of the work, but the executor supervises. The administrator (AKA executor) obtains necessary documents, hires the attorney, manages the process, cancels credit cards, pays off debts, and more. It is not an enviable job.

While some states do allow an avoidance of probate if your estate is below a certain net worth (in California, for example, the bar is $100,000), you will probably still have to go through a process, albeit a simplified version, that would be better avoided altogether.

The Terrifying Truth

The terrifying truth is that probate court is NOT something you want your family and loved ones to endure, even if you aren’t going to be around to care. Avoiding probate court involves creating an estate plan. Estate planning will help you get organized and plan for your future in the event of your demise. A well-prepared estate plan will protect your family from the court fees and time-suck that is probate court.

Estate planning attorneys are here to help. We aid you in managing the process, drafting the necessary documents, and counseling you on the best course of action depending on your situation and what your goals are.