Laws and regulation are a vital aspect of any society. To have these laws and regulations there must be people to create and uphold these laws. Different countries and cultures have their own systems for upholding the laws their culture has created throughout the years. In the United States of America, there is quite a few different people and groups of people involved in this process. There are those who create new laws and define the parameters of existing ones. Then there are those who keep the peace and uphold the laws as they are laid down. From here, there are still more people who judge those who break a law and set down appropriate punishments. However, there is a whole other side to the law that is often overlooked. Not every aspect revolves around someone breaking a law in any way. There are also areas of the law that deals with keeping society in general running smoothly and making sure various aspects of life and death and handled in an appropriate manner. One such area of the law is known as probate law. In this article, we will explore exactly what probate law is and why it is important to the general flow of life.
First of all, what exactly is probate law? In short, it is the method of ensuring an individual’s property and assets are distributed appropriately at the time of their passing. In life, we as a race of beings tend to accumulate items during our lifetime and quite often that includes at least one piece of property. Unfortunately, there will come a point when all of these accumulated items will have to be disbursed to others. When this time comes, it is good to have the peace of mind that your possessions will go to the people or person that you want to have them. To have this assurance it is necessary to have official documents drawn up stating your wishes. This is generally done in the form of a will. This official document must be drawn up by a lawyer. At the time of creating this important document, there are several other aspects that will need to be taken care of. For example, it is a wise idea to appoint someone to oversee the probate process and manage the estate. If someone is not already chosen, the court will appoint a specified individual to manage the estate. This person will oversee will reading, handle disputes, and do everything possible to ensure the process runs smoothly and in accordance with the deceased individual’s wishes.
It is a wise idea for every adult to have a will or similar document in place. Mortality is never a pleasant subject to consider, but it is an integral part of life. No matter how difficult it may be to think about, at some point, everyone will pass away and when that fateful day comes, you will want to know that your loved ones are taken care of. Consider a married couple; if one partner were to pass away without any kind of will or documented instructions, the surviving spouse may face losing their very home. Each state has their own laws and regulations regarding ownership of property, it is wise to research your state’s property ownership laws to be as prepared as possible.
Regardless of state, there are two types of joint ownership. While some people purchase a house or property under only one spouse’s name, that is many that people who have joint ownership. The first type of joint ownership as tenants in common. With this type, two or more owners each hold an individual undivided share of the property. In this case, each owner has the power and right to alienate or transfer the ownership of their interest. The other type is known as joint tenants. The biggest difference between this and tenants in common is what happens when one of the owners passes away. With tenants in common, when one owner passes away their share of the property does not automatically get distributed to the remaining owners, instead it becomes a part of their estate. With joint tenants, there is generally the right of survivorship which means that when one owner passes away, their share automatically passes to the remaining owner(s). Because of this, a will is necessary to ensure ownership passes the way you wish if you are under tenants in common.
If you are the sole owner of a piece of property, there is no one for ownership to automatically pass to. Therefore, it is vital to have a will or similar legal document to ensure that your wishes for property distribution will be fulfilled. If you have a family member or close friend that you want to receive the property upon your passing, you will need to dictate this in a will. During the probate process, the person assigned to oversee everything will have to go through several steps to ensure everything goes the way you wish. It is important, though, to keep in mind that even this is not a guarantee if you own a great deal of debt. This first thing that must be done is for the person in charge to notify creditors owed of the persons passing and allow them a set amount of time to make a claim.
After the allotted time period, any creditor that made a claim will then have to verify the claim. Any claims that are verified to be owed must be settled out of the estate before anything else can be done. After all, debts have been cleared, whatever remains is divided out according to the will.
During the probate process, there will be a period of time in which those involved may contest the will for various reasons. One possible reason is a claim that the deceased was not in their right mind when they made the will. Another potential reason is a claim of favoritism. There is all manner of possible reasons to contest a will, but as often as not, the process goes uncontested and matters proceed in a normal fashion. If you have questions or would like to know more about the probate process, be sure to contact Pyke and Associates today.