Richard E. Fowlks, Attorney at Law

What is probate and when is it necessary?

There is a lot to think about when creating or administering an estate, with probate at the top of the list.

In short, probate is nothing more than a legal process that entails the distribution of assets left behind by a deceased individual. Assets can include but are not limited to personal property, cash and real estate.

When is it necessary?

It's a common myth that probate is required any time a person passes on. If the deceased individual owned property with another person, such as a spouse, it will automatically go to him or her.

Furthermore, if a person passes on without many assets, it's possible that his or her belongings can pass to the appropriate beneficiaries without an official probate process.

There are situations when probate is needed, including the following:

  • To collect any debts owed to the deceased individual
  • To clear the title of a valuable asset, such as real estate, and to move it to the appropriate beneficiary
  • To settle a dispute between individuals who feel that they should receive the assets of the deceased
  • To resolve any disputes associated with a person's will

If you're going through the process, such as after a loved one passes on, you should learn as much as you can about the steps to come and where you fit in.

For example, there's a difference between being the administrator of a will and a beneficiary.

Regardless of your responsibilities and relationship to the deceased, make sure you know your legal rights and do whatever you can to protect them.

Source: Oregon State Bar, "What is Probate?," Erin K. Fitzgerald, accessed May 22, 2018

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