In general, when a person dies his or her personal and real property is transferred to heirs or beneficiaries through:
- a public court proceeding called “probate;” or
- a private administration of the decedents funded “living trust;” or
- a combination of both.
The administration of the decedent’s estate or living trust requires both careful planning and diligent execution.
The Probate Process
In general, “Probate” happens when a decedent failed to prepare a Will (dies intestate); or, when the decedent prepared a Will (dies testate) without a fully-funded Living Trust. In both cases, a decedent’s relative or close friend is commonly called upon to commence a formal probate court proceeding, a lengthy and expensive process requiring the assistance of legal counsel. The goal of the probate proceeding is to pay decedent’s creditors and to transfer decedent’s net assets to the lawful statutory beneficiaries (intestate) or to the heirs and beneficiaries designated in decedent’s Will.
Decedents who prepare an estate plan that includes a fully-funded living trust are able to avoid the lengthy public court-supervised probate process, saving thousands of dollars in fees and expenses Instead, the decedent’s designated successor trustee is charged with the fiduciary duty to administer (privately and without court intervention) the trust assets as directed in the trust document. Typically, trust administration is both less expensive and completed much sooner than a comparable probate proceeding.
Our goal in both probate and trust administration is to guide our clients through this process efficiently, effectively and with compassion during a difficult time of mourning.
The passing of a loved one is a difficult emotional time for a family. It is also a time when many decisions with substantial financial implications must be made during a period of mourning.
Our goal in both probate and trust administration is to guide our clients through this process efficiently, effectively, and with compassion. And we stand ready for our clients, in their time of grief, to call on us for assistance with personal matters that may transcend legal issues.