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Have you considered how your assets will be divided or distributed upon your death? If you're retired or nearing retirement, these decisions are now imperative. Taking the right steps in advance can save your loved ones additional grief later on. Keep reading to learn about probate below...

What Is Probate?

Probate is a formal process that involves recognizing a person's last will and testament and acknowledging the executor or administrator of the estate. The appointed executor or administrator then distributes the person's assets to the named beneficiaries.

The general steps involved in probate are as follows:

  1. Authenticate the will. If the person has a will, the very first step in the probate process is authenticating the will to verify that it was, indeed, the decedent's last wishes. This authentication process is generally handled by a judge.
  2. Appoint an executor/administrator. If there was a will, it will acknowledge who the decedent wanted to act as an executor during the probate. If there wasn't a will, the court will appoint an administrator, which may be the next of kin. This person then gives notice to all heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors to signify that the probate process is beginning.
  3. Location of assets. The executor of the will then conducts an inventory of the decedent's assets. This may include physical property, stocks, bonds, business investments, monetary assets, and other assets. A third-party appraiser may be appointed to appraise non-monetary assets.
  4. Pay expenses, debts, and taxes. The executor assesses debt claims and determines which are legitimate. This individual then reconciles any remaining expenses or debts, such as funeral expenses, estate bills, and taxes.
  5. Petition to distribute assets to beneficiaries. After a waiting period in which any creditors are encouraged to file claims for the estate to recompense debt, the executor files a petition with the court to transfer the decedent's assets as outlined in the will. If there is no will, the assets are distributed based on intestate succession laws.

Each state has its own unique rules and regulations that define the probate process, so knowing how your particular state handles these matters is important. Ross Wealth Advisors can connect you with a qualified estate planning attorney who can inform you of your rights and guide you through the process.

Why Estate Planning Is Important

As you can see, the probate process can be potentially lengthy and costly, particularly when you have not outlined your wishes in a formal last will and testament or set up a trust to distribute your assets. If you have not prepared a will prior to your death, your estate may be held up in a process referred to as intestate. In this situation, the courts determine how things will be distributed-- in other words, things may not be transferred how you might want them to.

Speaking with someone at Ross Wealth Advisors about your estate planning is an essential step for avoiding a drawn-out probate. Plus, with estate planning, you can rest assured that the heirs and beneficiaries that you name will receive your assets.

Next Steps

Spare your loved ones the additional grief and confusion of having your estate caught up in probate for months or even years after your death. Schedule a time to discuss your financial future by contacting us via email or call us at 614.310.4519 today!

Your investment advisor is not permitted to offer, and no statement contained herein shall constitute tax or legal advice. You should consult a legal or tax professional on any such matters.

All written content on this site is for information purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of ROSS WEALTH ADVISORS and our editorial staff. Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representations as to its accuracy or completeness.
All information and ideas should be discussed in detail with your individual adviser prior to implementation. Fee-based financial planning and investment advisory services are offered by TOUNJIAN ADVISORY GROUP, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor in the State of Florida. Insurance products and services are offered through ROSS WEALTH ADVISORS, and TOUNJIAN ADVISORY GROUP, LLC are unaffiliated companies. The presence of this web site shall in no way be construed or interpreted as a solicitation to sell or offer to sell investment advisory services to any residents of any State other than the State of Ohio or where otherwise legally permitted.

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