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Financial Briefs

 

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What Is Probate And What Does It Protect?

 

The probate, or estate administration process, is when someone passes owning assets in his or her name alone, requiring a personal representative to start an estate, handle the decedent’s assets, and settle his or her affairs. The personal representative is called an “Executor” if appointed in the decedent’s Will. If the decedent has not designated an Executor in a Will, the court appoints an “Administrator”, which can be an individual or corporation such as a bank or trust company. The Executor or Administrator is the only person or entity legally authorized to deal with the assets of the estate and handle matters of estate administration. 

 

Probate is a process required by state law. The probate process protects beneficiaries and creditors and assures proper distribution of estate assets. Assets held in a trust are governed by the terms of the trust rather than the decedent’s Will and pass outside the probate process. Even if assets are not subject to probate, they may still be subject to all of the same death taxes as probate assets.

 



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