If you’ve spent any time researching how to plan your estate, you’ve probably heard of probate. But do you really understand what probate entails? It can be more complicated than you think, and the last thing you want is for your family and friends to stress over your estate after your death.

An estate planning lawyer, can explain, your estate is your legacy, and how your family and friends will remember you. Suppose you die and your beneficiaries have to deal with complicated and stressful legal processes instead of properly grieving your passing. In that case, it could be an indelible stain on how you are remembered.

When you die, your assets don’t just disappear. And they don’t magically appear at the doorstep of whoever you name in your will, either. If you die and you leave behind a will, your estate will be handled by a probate court, and it can be a challenging and frustrating process for everyone involved. Unfortunately, it’s largely unavoidable. Read on to learn about the ins and outs of probate, and see how an estate planning lawyer can help you and your family.

What does Probate Entail?

In legalese, probate is the process through which your will is authenticated and executed. In simple English, it’s how all your stuff is distributed to your family and friends. Your will is a legal document that must be validated by a court upon your death: Before any steps are taken towards giving your family and friends what they’re owed, the will needs to be legitimate. And that’s just the beginning of a very long road.

After your will is authenticated, your executor will have to handle the proceedings. An executor is someone you name in the will to be in charge of your estate. If you didn’t name an executor, the state will choose a representative from amongst your family – not a great situation if you have ex-spouses or greedy, estranged family members hiding in the shadows. In fact, even if you name an executor, they can be challenged and replaced if others in your estate don’t agree with how they’re running the show.

Assuming the executor is accepted by everyone and there aren’t any legal hiccups to this point, your assets will then need to be tracked down and valued. This is a lengthy process that involves some searching and researching, and there’s oftentimes third-parties that are involved in valuation. These third parties don’t work for free, so there’s fees involved here, and especially in the next step.

After your assets are valued, your estate will have to pay off any taxes and outstanding debts. If you died without paying off your creditors, they’ll have to be informed and the outstanding balance will need to be paid off. And if your estate was big enough, your estate might even have to pay estate taxes.

Finally, after all these hoops have been cleared by your executor and the other members of your estate, your beneficiaries will get whatever’s left over. It’s a frustrating and challenging process, and it’s pretty expensive too. While you won’t be alive to deal with the complications of probate, your friends and family will have to struggle through all this without you – unless you contact an estate planning lawyer ahead of time.

What Can an Estate Planning Lawyer Do?

When you reach out to an estate planning lawyer, you can take steps to ensure probate goes as smoothly as possible for your beneficiaries. In fact, the right estate planning lawyer may even help you set up a living trust, which can help your beneficiaries avoid the probate process altogether. This isn’t a simple project, and it requires solid legal advice at every step of the way. Make sure you know what you’re doing, and get in touch with our friends at McCarthy Law, LLC for all of your needs today.