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5 frequently asked questions about probate

Losing a loved one is a difficult time. You may have to deal with your loved one's estate after the death if he or she had any assets. Many estates have to go through probate. Understanding some basic points about probate can help if you are facing this situation after your loved one passes away.

#1: Do all estates go through the probate process?

All estates don't have to go through the probate process. There are specific criteria that must occur that can mean an estate won't have to go through probate. Typically, estates with a value of $150,000 would need to go through this process. If a person died intestate, or without a will, probate is likely necessary. Seeking out the help of an attorney is important in these cases.

#2: How are bills of the decedent handled?

A solvent estate is one that includes enough assets to pay the decedent's bills. An insolvent estate doesn't have enough in assets to pay all the bills. The personal representative needs to find out how the law requires payment of bills. The estate is used to pay creditors according to applicable laws, which dictate the payment order for various types of bills. Some creditors might not be paid based on the order of repayment set by the law.

#3: Do I have to use life insurance to pay bills?

Life insurance funds don't have to pay bills the decedent leaves behind. The life insurance funds aren't usually part of the estate. Life insurance funds help to pay the decedent's final expenses and to help the beneficiary.

#4: What does payable on death mean on financial accounts?

Some financial accounts have a payable on death designation. This enables the owner of the account to list a beneficiary. The beneficiary gets access to the funds when the owner dies. This means that the account isn't subject to the probate process so the beneficiary can access the funds immediately.

#5: What is right of survivorship?

In the case of real estate, if one property owner dies, the other one gets full rights to the property. This concept is known as right of survivorship. It is the way that one spouse is able to remain in the marital home if the other spouse passes away. Unmarried couples and same-sex couples should learn how right of survivorship applies to their cases wh en one partner dies.

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