When someone dies, certain assets may to pass to that individual’s heirs free of court interference; however, many assets do not automatically pass to those heirs without a court process. That court process is called probate. If a loved one has died, it is a good idea to meet with an attorney to determine what specifically needs to be done to ensure title passes correctly and that the will is administered properly.
During the probate process, if the deceased person created a will during their lifetime, it is called a testate probate and the deceased individual’s will is presented to the court and certain tasks must be performed. If the deceased person did not create a will during their lifetime, it is called and intestate probate and the court will direct distribution in accordance with state statute.
Certain debts and taxes of the deceased person must be paid, so it needs to be determined what the deceased person owned at the time of death, so that payment can be made. Thereafter, once all the necessary legal requirements have been completed, the property may be distributed as directed by a will or by state law.
Probate in the state of North Dakota or Minnesota can be relatively quick and inexpensive; however, it can also become lengthy and time-consuming. Probate can be formal or informal.
In an informal probate, the appointed personal representative or executor manages assets, pays any debts, files required tax returns and various court documents, and distributes the estate assets. In a formal probate, the probate judge must approve almost every detail of the estate administration.
Probate can be overwhelming, especially during a times of grief. The attorneys and paralegals at Sandin Law understand this and do what we can to bring peace through trusted advice. Our probate process provides our clients with an understanding of what to expect, a timeline with set goals and organizational tools to ensure the process stays on track.
If a loved one has passed away and you require probate assistance, the attorneys and team at Sandin Law can help.
Because probate can be a lengthy, expensive and public process, many people choose to avoid it. There are a number of strategies that will allow you to pass property to another person after death, without going through probate.
A properly drafted and funded trust will generally avoid probate. The trust need not be filed with the probate court. Nonetheless, there are still steps that need to be taken by the successor trustee to administer the trust, such as beneficiaries must be contacted, assets must be gathered, valued and managed, potential creditors must be notified, debts, taxes and final expenses must be paid, and lastly, any remaining income and assets must be distributed in compliance with the trust terms.
Successor trustees often lack the time, resources or knowledge to personally administer the trust, and therefore may call upon legal, accounting and investment professionals for assistance. Oftentimes, a corporate fiduciary (e.g., a trust company) is an excellent alternative to relying solely on a family member or friend to serve as trustee, who may not have the time or the knowledge.
The attorneys and paralegal team at Sandin Law can help your successor trustee(s) deal with the complexities of administering your trust. Please call our office, and we will be happy to schedule a consultation, whether or not our office has drafted the original trust.