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.
Two things in life are certain: death and taxes, which is probably why probate is a word that makes most people cringe. It forces you to consider your own mortality or comes into play after the loss of a loved one. You might find the term unfamiliar or confusing, not understanding what it actually means or what the process truly entails - and no one faults you for this.
Your loved one has passed away. Whether the passing took you by surprise or was expected after a long-term illness, it isn't easy to deal with their loss. When the only thing you want to do is mourn their death and look to the future, you have to think about their estate. You have to think about probate, something that can be very frustrating and confusing, particularly if this is the first time you have had to deal with the issue.
Many people make assumptions about family, particularly their parents. They assume that their parents should take care of them in childhood, that they will step in and help their parents a bit during their golden years if needed, and when their parents are gone they will take care of them once again -- by leaving their estate.
The brothers, sisters and father of legendary pop singer Michael Jackson were not named as heirs of their late brother's estate and now the siblings have publicly, but not legally, challenged the validity of Jackson's will. Many legal experts say the famous siblings' argument would be futile in probate court.
Artist Thomas Kinkcade died of an alcohol overdose last April. He left multiple wills, including two holographic or handwritten wills that are causing a legal dispute. A probate court judge must decide if two letters Kinkcade wrote are valid and whether a court battle will take place.
Los Angeles actress Reese Witherspoon and her brother were in probate court last month to request a conservatorship for their 70-year-old father. Reese's mother, Betty Witherspoon, and father, John Witherspoon, have been married for more than 40 years.