Will Guide
Introduction
What Happens if You Die Without a Will
Probate
Leaving Property to Heirs
Guardianships
Debts
Homes and Family Residence
Testamentary Trusts
Amending and Revoking Your Will
Marriage, Divorce and Children
Estate Taxes
Will FAQs
What is a will?
What happens if you die without a will?
Is my out-of-state will valid if I move?
What makes a will legal?
Can I make a handwritten will?
Do I have to file my will with a court or in public records?
Can I disinherit someone?
What should I do with my will after I sign it?
Can I change or revoke my will after I make it?
What happens to my debts after I die?
Where can I get my will notarized?

What You Need To Know

Probate



Probate is the legal proceeding in which a court determines how an estate will be divided. The court will look at your Last Will and Testament in deciding how to distribute your property and will follow the will unless it is contested by your heirs.

Some people think that a will precludes probate. This is not the case. A will is used in probate to determine who receives what property, who is appointed as guardians to any minor children, and who will be responsible for carrying out the wishes contained in the will.

Generally, if an estate includes real estate or minor children, a formal probate action in court is required. In many states, however, if the value of the estate does not exceed $50,000, probate is not mandatory because other legal remedies are available.

Probate can become very expensive if you do not plan correctly. For instance, if you do not have a will, the court will need to appoint an administrator. This can take a long time and cost a significant sum of money. The court will often charge a hefty fee (sometimes 5-15% of the value of your property) to probate your estate.

To avoid probate, other estate-planning devices should be used. Joint tenancies, pay-on-death accounts and living trusts are some of the most common estate-planning methods.

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