What Does Probate Mean?
The meaning of probate can be a bit hard to understand. In a technical sense, probate is an investigation of the deceased person’s assets, debts, and plans for their estate. In order to understand what probate means, it helps to know the questions that the court seeks to answer during probate:
- Who should serve as the personal representative of the estate?
- Did the deceased person leave a will? If there is more than one existing version of the will, which one is correct?
- If there is a will, does it genuinely represent the deceased person’s wishes, or did someone pressure the decedent into signing it?
- If there is not a will, who are the decedent’s legal heirs?
- Did the person have any outstanding debts when he or she died?
Most of the time, the answers to those questions are straightforward. You only need to file the probate documents that the court requests and the estate settles in less than a year. The process of full probate usually takes about nine to twelve months to give creditors and prospective heirs a fair chance to prepare statements to persuade the court that they should be entitled to some money from the estate. Another thing that can prolong the probate process is if you need to sell property from the estate in order to pay debts and obligations. Depending on the type of authority you are given, selling property may require court approval. Selling property below appraised value will also present problems and you may need to get court approval before lowering the sale price.
Alternatives to Probate
Understanding the meaning of probate is only one part of the puzzle. It is also necessary to understand what estates require probate. First, keep in mind that you do not have to go through the whole process of probate unless the estate has a value of at least $166,250. Most small estates are eligible for simplified probate alternatives. California offers three different alternative processes. Two are for estates that include real estate property of low value, the third is for estates that do not.
Contact a People’s Choice to Get Your Probate Documents Prepared Accurately
So, what does probate mean? First and foremost, probate does not mean that you will go broke to complete the process. It also does not mean that the process has to be frustrating and stressful. Most importantly, probate does not mean you need to hire an attorney. Yes, preparing and filing your own probate documents can definitely be stressful if you do not have some professional help. In our opinion, the best choice is to have your probate documents prepared by a registered legal document assistant. This option is less expensive than hiring a lawyer and can relieve all the stress “going it alone” creates. A experienced probate legal document assistant can prepare these documents for you, without having to a lawyer. Remember, paralegals are not capable of offering these types of services to consumers. Contact A People’s Choice about preparing the documents for your probate or simplified probate case. You reach us at 800-747-2780 7 days a week!
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