Probate: FAQs About This Critical Aspect Of Estate Administration

Last updated on July 10, 2023

Many people want a better understanding of every aspect of estate planning, including the probate process. Often, when the uninitiated hear the term “probate,” they become unnerved and intimidated. But they should not be if they have seasoned attorneys on their side. Our team at Terry Jessop & Bitner in Salt Lake City is prepared to guide you at every step and answer your questions. Below, you can also find answers to some of the most common questions we receive.

What is probate?

The main aspect of probate is the authentication of a will. A judge makes sure that it is valid and was signed by the decedent. Probate consists of many other aspects as well. They include appointing an executor if one has not been chosen, determining the value of the estate’s assets, paying any outstanding debts and taxes of the estate, settling any disagreements among the beneficiaries and distributing any remaining assets among those beneficiaries. The process may take up to a year to conclude.

Does my estate have to go through the probate process?

If you have a will, your estate will likely need to go through the probate process. However, you can avoid such a scenario by setting up a living trust – whether revocable or irrevocable – as part of your estate plan or through other avenues mentioned in the next question.

How do I avoid probate?

You may be able to avoid the probate process through smart estate planning. This can include establishing tools such as a living trust, often referred to as a revocable trust. With a trust, you can manage your estate and designate assets to heirs while you remain alive. Many people elect to go this route to avoid probate, which can be an expensive process. This includes court costs and attorney fees as well as costs associated with an executor or personal representative. You also may avoid probate by creating an irrevocable trust, which is one that generally cannot be modified after its creation.

Another option to avoid probate is to create a transfer on death deed (TOD) with which you as a property owner may pass on a house or property to beneficiaries. Finally, a small estate worth $100,000 or less also may avoid the probate process through what is called a “small estate affidavit.”

How may I protect my assets from probate?

An irrevocable trust allows you to protect your assets from creditors and judgments because those assets no longer belong to you. With the trust, you have transferred ownership and cannot take back the assets. However, this is not the case with a revocable trust, which allows for your personal property to remain under your control. Creditors and courts may go after assets in a revocable trust for bill payments or judgments.

The probate process may be complicated, but our attorneys are ready to explain, guide and protect you along the way.

Experienced Guidance In Probate, So Call Now

If you have questions regarding any estate planning aspect, including the probate process, we provide top-notch guidance. The attorneys of Terry Jessop & Bitner have worked with many families and individuals throughout the Salt Lake City area. For a free consultation, contact our experienced probate and estate planning attorneys at 385-715-4116.