The probate process must take place after a person has passed away, in most circumstances. While there are some limited exceptions, such as when a person makes an estate plan in order to avoid the probate process, probate is usually the process by which a deceased person’s assets are transferred to family or friends after a death.
The probate process can be a complicated and costly process, and all those involved – including heirs or beneficiaries, the executor of an estate and anyone who wishes to contest a will – needs to understand exactly what is involved. Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC can provide invaluable assistance with all aspects of the probate process, so give us a call to get personalized advice from a Burlington probate lawyer. You can also review the answers to some frequently asked questions below in order to learn more about what probate is, how the probate process works in Vermont, and what your role in the probate process will be.
What is probate?
Probate is a process that is designed to wind up the affairs of a deceased person and to facilitate the orderly transfer of a person’s assets after an individual passes away. When someone dies, either intestacy law or that person’s last will and testament will determine who inherits assets. A process must occur in which a will is validated or in which heirs are identified so the right people can inherit. There must also be a chance for creditors to make claims, for an estate to be valued, and for any and all taxes on the estate to be assessed. The probate process is the process by which all of these different things take place. Learn more here about what probate is and how the process works.
What does it mean to probate a will?
To probate a will is to determine if the will is legally valid and made in accordance with Vermont requirements. The process of probating a will also involves taking steps in the probate court to determine who exactly should inherit what property, as well as what taxes should be assessed on an estate. The executor of an estate oversees the probate process and files appropriate paperwork with the court. The executor of an estate also takes responsibility for managing probate assets during the probate process and for facilitating the transfer of those assets to the new owners according to the instructions the deceased left in the will. Find out more here about what it means to probate a will.
What if I fail in my executor duties?
The executor of an estate is responsible for filing court paperwork, seeing the will through the probate process, managing the assets of the deceased person, and facilitating the transfer of the assets to new owners. The executor of an estate has a lot of responsibility and has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of heirs or beneficiaries and not to enrich himself. If you fail in your duties as an executor, you could potentially be removed by the court from the job of executor.
In some cases, you could also end up facing a lawsuit against you for a breach of fiduciary duty. You do not want to take a chance on facing legal consequences for failing to fulfill your role as executor, so if you have been named as executor in a deceased person’s will, you’ll want to ensure that you talk with an attorney before you agree to serve in this role and you’ll want to get legal help from a Vermont probate attorney to fulfill your obligations throughout the probate process. Find out more here about what happens if you fail in your executor duties.
Why would you want to avoid Vermont probate?
There are many reasons why you might want to avoid Vermont probate. The process can cost a significant amount of money, thereby reducing the value of an inheritance. The process can take a long time, leaving heirs or beneficiaries without funds they may need if they were counting on an inheritance. The process can also result in a will being contested and the deceased’s wishes not being respected- which is much less likely to happen with other methods of transferring property such as creating a trust or using joint ownership. Find out more here about why you might want to avoid Vermont probate.
Can living trusts help you to avoid probate?
Living trusts can help you to avoid the probate process. When you create living trusts, assets that are held within the trust will not need to transfer through the probate process. Instead, the trust assets will be able to transfer through the trust administration process. The trust administration process is a quicker process that does not require the oversight of a probate court judge; no judge becomes involved unless there is a problem.
Trust administration makes the process of transferring assets more efficient, more timely, and more private. However, creating a living trust and transferring assets through trust administration and outside of probate does not mean that those assets won’t be part of the taxable estate, so it is important to understand the limitations of the protections that a living trust will provide. Find out more about how Vermont living trusts can help you to avoid the probate process.
Do you need a Burlington probate attorney for small estates?
You should be represented by a Burlington probate attorney for both small and large estates. An attorney can help you to understand if you must go through the full probate process after a death and can guide you through successfully fulfilling any and all legal requirements for the transfer of assets to new owners.
When the estate is small, you cannot afford mistakes that end up costing heirs or beneficiaries the inheritance they should receive. A Vermont probate lawyer can help make sure that does not happen. Learn more here about why you need an attorney for small estates, and call Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC when you are ready to hire a lawyer. Our legal team treats every estate with the importance that it deserves, regardless of estate size. Give us a call at (802) 879-7133 or contact us online https://unsworthlaplante.com/contact-us/ to talk with an attorney about how we can help during the probate process.