Probate Estate Administration: When Is Probate Necessary?

Losing a loved one is difficult to cope with. It can be tougher to bear the grief if you are the named Executor. This means you have to sort through, divide, distribute, and dispose of the decedent’s belongings. Before you distribute assets within an estate, you must go through probate estate administration. The probate process is usually necessary when there is a house involved. If you ignore the rules, you could face a lawsuit filed against you by an angry beneficiary. 

How Probate Works

The probate recognizes the will made by a deceased estate owner. Also, it appoints an executor to administer the estate and distribute its assets to the designated beneficiaries. A lot of people think that probate is important only when there is no will, no heirs, or when there is a dispute on the existing will. But the truth depends on the probate laws of the state and the steps the decedent took to avoid probate before they died. Should the estate require probate, nothing can be done to the assets until an executor or personal representative is legally appointed by the court.  

When is Probate Necessary?

In general, an estate will need to go through probate if:

  • There is no will. Often, estates that do not have a will be handled by the probate court to sort out the assets. But for small estates, probate may not be necessary even if there is no will. 
  • There are issues with the will. A will can be done but not in the right way, especially when the estate owner did not consult an attorney. Issues can arise from the will already in place. These can happen when the estate owner did not notarize the will or filed to attach a self-proving affidavit. Also, issues can occur when the decedent did not update their will after buying a house in a new state. In any of these situations, probate is important to deal with the issues of a contested, invalid, or incorrect will. 
  • There are no named beneficiaries. If a single or widowed estate owner who has no children die, somebody must decide what happens to their possessions. Typically, this will be the probate court. If the owner did not name any beneficiaries, the probate court will decide how to distribute the assets in the estate and to who. The court may find distant relatives the will did not name to inherit the assets. If no relatives can be found, the estate will appropriate the assets.