When an individual dies with ownership of assets solely in their own name and those assets lack named beneficiaries, said assets must go through the court system before they can be passed onto the decedents’ heirs. If you have a will, the process is called probate. The initial step done by a probate attorney is to “prove the will.” This is done by having the nominated executor send a copy of the will to all of the decedent’s legal heirs (those who were legally entitled to inherit from them under intestacy rules). If those people consent to the will, then all is well and the process can proceed. If they don’t consent, then there is a will contest, and legal proceeding will follow. This can be a costly and time consuming process. Assuming the court approves the will, then the bills of the person will be paid, and any money or assets left over will be distributed to the named heirs, in the matter set forth in the Will.
If the deceased person did not have a will, the process is called an Estate Administration. In this case, the state’s laws of inheritance (intestacy), not the wishes of the deceased person, will decide who gets the assets.
- If there cannot be an agreement about how to divide the assets in the estate, they may need to be sold, often at a discount.
- Both probate and Estate Administrations are available to the public.
- According to a CNN Money study, probate costs between 5.00% -7.00% of the Estate.
- In New York, estates take at least 8 months to complete.
- Most often, Estates do not distribute money until the estate is complete and settled.
- If you have property in multiple states, then a court proceeding will need to be open in those states as well.