Tips for Using Wills Probate to Protect Inheritance Property by Simon Volkov

by Joe Thomas on January 25, 2011

Wills probate refers to a decedent’s last will and testament that is undergoing estate settlement though probate court. When estates are suspended in probate, inheritance assets are held until the Will is validated and outstanding debts paid.

Wills probate is managed by probate executors who are either designated within the Will or appointed through probate court. Oftentimes, estate administrators require assistance from a probate lawyer to ensure the estate is settled according to state probate laws.

Wills probate administrators are responsible for many estate management duties. Decedents often designate their spouse or family members to this position, but having a relative engage in probate estate management may or may not be the best idea.

Settling a probated estate can be difficult to do while grieving. If family discord exists, probate personal representatives can encounter difficult and emotionally-charged events. Sadly, death can bring out the worst in some people and if inheritance money is involved, greed often rears its ugly head. One option to prevent family disputes during probate is to hire a probate lawyer or professional estate planner to manage the estate.

When professionals settle decedent estates family members are less likely to contest the Will. Probate lawyers can prepare legal documents, oversee transfer of financial portfolios and real estate holdings, and sort through complicated matters.

Probate typically lasts for 6 to 9 months. Several factors are involved when settling decedent estates. The time required will depend on court caseload, estate value, type of inheritance assets, and outstanding debts owed by the decedent.

Probate executors receive compensation for managing wills probate. Compensation is determined by state probate laws. Some states compensate estate administrators at an hourly wage or flat fee, while others use a compensation schedule based on the estate’s value.

Relatives often feel uncomfortable receiving compensation for estate management duties. However, settling decedent estates is a time-consuming process that can requires hundreds of hours of work.

In addition to paying outstanding debts and securing inheritance property for distribution to named heirs and beneficiaries, estate executors must file a final tax return. Final taxes must be paid within 9 months from the date of death, regardless of if the estate is settled or not.

If taxes are owed, the estate must remit full payment with the final return. If returns are not filed on time, the IRS will assess late fees and penalties. It is best to hire a tax attorney to complete final tax returns.

Once the estate is settled the probate executormust submit a settlement statement to the court. The probate judge reviews all actions taken on behalf of the estate to ensure settlement abides by state probate laws and directives outlined in the wills probate. Once the judge approves estate settlement, inheritance assets can be distributed to rightful heirs.

The only way to avoid probate is to transfer inheritance property to a trust. Some assets can bypass the process by designating payable on death or transfer on death beneficiaries. These options should be discussed with a probate lawyer to ensure proper documents are filed.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: