Probate court serves many different circumstances, such as when an individual dies without a will and the value and ownership of certain areas of the estate remain in question. The American Association of Retired Persons reports that nearly half of Americans do not have a will in place, and when this occurs, you may require a probate court to handle the estate properly.
Any will may undergo probate, and understanding how the process works and what you can expect may help you feel more confident before attending.
The purpose of probate court
In most cases, probate occurs when someone dies without a will and there are questions about who has the right to inherit assets. For example, if your elderly father owns real estate, a retirement account and a checking account and he passes without a will, you will likely require probate court to ensure these assets legally pass to you or others in the family who stand entitled to inherit them.
Wills and probate court
If the individual in question had a will in place but the value of the estate is considerable, you may still require a probate court to handle the many different aspects of the will, including:
- The dispersal of trusts
- Verifying power of attorney
- Verifying and protecting electronic signatures
In most cases, a verified will and other estate planning make probate simpler and less costly.
Whether you require a probate court to assist you with the handling of an estate may depend on several circumstances, such as if someone challenges the contents of a will. Some probate cases can take months to resolve, so encouraging loved ones to create and notarize a will may prevent this issue.