We have touched on probate in our blog post What Happens To Us When We Die? and why it’s often better to avoid it. Some of us have also likely heard a horror story or two about the process. But why are there probate proceedings in the first place? And if one doesn’t mind making a couple trips to court and is on good terms with all the relatives, what is there to be afraid of, exactly?
When a loved one passes away, most of those people closest to the person are not in the right place to make decisions about the deceased’s remaining assets.
When a loved one passes away, most of those people closest to the person are not in the right place to make decisions about the deceased’s remaining assets. In most cases, everyone has related to the deceased a little differently, in varying levels of personal investment. For this reason, it becomes necessary to give the power of judgment to an objective third party: someone who can look at what is left and make unbiased decisions under the law regarding what goes where, whether a will exists or not. As such, we have probate court.
While family members, relatives, and friends alike are expected to be accounted for when distributing an estate’s assets, it is unfortunately not uncommon for creditors and other financial institutions to also have a vested interest in the deceased’s estate, whether it be for debt, unpaid bills, or a lingering mortgage. A probate proceeding is public because it is supposed to address anyone and everyone who might have a claim to a deceased’s estate, including that secret lover and/or child no one else knew about (it happens–they’re not just a figment of Hollywood imagination).
A struggle over assets can occur which can divide families.
Any estate or elder law attorney will probably have a story or two to tell about issues of estate causing tension in relationships, even among the most amicable people. Whenever there is no will, or a will is unclear, a struggle over assets can occur which can divide families and cause long-lasting rifts between parties. With a trust, however, an estate can be distributed with more flexibility and specificity, ensuring that the only voice with ultimate authority on where your assets go can be heard for generations to come: your own.
Should you have any questions, require assistance in planning your estate, or are in need of a good attorney to get you through the probate process, give us a call at (808) 942-8778.
You can find more information on probate proceedings here.
For more information on how we can assist you, please feel free to contact us and a representative will contact you within one business day.