Handling the final affairs of someone who has passed away can be overwhelming. There are many issues to address such as memorial service, cremation, and burial. Handling the assets and financial affairs of the decedent is another important issue.
There are three main things that need to happen regarding the assets and financial affairs of a decedent. First, someone needs to be able to control those assets and financial affairs. Second, that person needs to pay the valid debts of the decedent. Then third, legal ownership of all of the decedent’s assets need to be transferred to others.
When someone dies without having done any estate planning like having a trust or a will often a probate decedent’s estate court proceeding will be necessary to carry out those three things.
A probate decedent’s estate court proceeding is much more than going to court one time. It normally requires going to court at least twice, if not four or more times.
The first time at the beginning of the process the court appoints a certain person to be in charge.
The other time for going to court is at the end of the probate decedent’s estate court proceeding. Going to court this time is necessary to inform the court that all tasks are complete and to request authority to transfer legal ownership of the decedent’s assets to others.
Those other people will be named in the will, if there is a will. If there is no will, then the assets will be distributed to the heirs of the decedent. The heirs are the closest living relatives of the decedent as defined by law.
In addition to the court hearings, the court ordinarily will not put a person in charge of a probate decedent’s estate court proceeding unless that person obtains a bond and files it with the court. That person also must file with the court a detailed inventory of all of the decedent’s assets. Plus the person in charge needs to make sure that all creditors of the decedent are paid, and there is a detailed formal written process for doing this.
A probate decedent’s estate court proceeding is a lot of work, takes a long time, and can be quite costly.
That is why it is a good idea that everyone consider estate planning and having a trust or will and other related documents. Ensuring that your assets go to people you choose, rather than as provided by law, is another important reason to do estate planning.
Nevertheless, probate decedent’s estate court proceedings are essential for decedents who have not done estate planning.