In today’s discussion on basic estate planning questions, we’re going to ask the vital question of what is probate. Probate is one of those areas of the law that, even though many people have heard about, few people have much direct knowledge of. To help better understand why probate is so essential to the estate planning process, we are going to take a look at some important questions about it and its impact on you and your estate plan.
Basic Estate Planning Question. What is probate?
When people ask “what is probate,” it’s often because they have recently experienced the death of a close family member or loved one. Put simply, probate is the legal process that takes place after someone has died. Deceased people leave behind a number of questions and issues that need to be addressed, and the probate process is designed to bring resolution to each of these important matters in a fair and uniform way.
Basic Estate Planning Question. What is probate law, or the probate code?
Probate law is simply the collection of laws and procedures that specifically apply to probate cases. As with other types of laws, every state has its own collection of probate laws, often referred to as the probate code. This is why, for example, if you have a question about probate, you need to find an attorney who has experience handling probate matters in your area. Not only are state probate laws often very different from the laws in other states, but local probate rules and courtroom procedures can also require you to find an attorney who has direct experience handling probate matters in your area.
Basic Estate Planning Question. Why is probate important to estate planning?
The basic process of creating an estate plan involves looking ahead to the future and making choices about what you want to happen. Many of these choices will affect what happens to your property and possessions after you die. Because probate is the legal process that takes place after you die, your estate plan will have to be based on the probate laws of your state.
In other words, to make an effective estate plan you have to have an in-depth understanding of probate. Of course, most people who create an estate plan do so with the advice and guidance of an attorney who is already experienced in probate matters. Failing to have someone who is experienced in probate advise you as you create an estate plan can be a serious mistake.
People who create an estate plan have a lot of options. Some options allow you to minimize, or possibly eliminate, various probate requirements and procedures. In fact, designing a plan that minimizes the effect probably has is often one of the key goals of those who create an estate plan.