Estate Planning And Probate FAQ
Many people know they should have a plan in place for their estate, but they don’t know where to start. When a loved one passes away, most people have many questions about what happens to the assets left behind. At Bieber & Czechowski, we handle these questions every day for our clients in Warren and throughout Michigan. Both of our partners have over 40 years of experience. Here are examples of questions we are asked often:
1. What do you about the assets and debts of a loved one when he or she passes?
Of course, you first must cope with your grief and the responsibilities of making funeral and burial arrangements. Then, you can call our office to verify what you need and when to come in for a consultation with an attorney. You generally need to collect his or her documents, like the most recent bank and credit card statements, deeds, and any will or trust.
2. What is probate?
Probate is a legal process in court to transfer ownership from the deceased to beneficiaries or to a third-party purchaser. If there is no will, then the law decides who gets the deceased’s property. Or worse yet, the property may go to the state.
3. Does a will avoid probate court?
No. I like to call a will simply a document that tells the judge who you want to receive your assets. To avoid probate, contact our office and our lawyers can help you decide what you must do.
4. Who gets my assets if I die without a will or trust?
If you die with assets in your name alone, without a proper will or trust, the laws of your state decide who gets your property. So some distant relative or someone you don’t know may get your property. And again, even the state may get your property under certain circumstances.
5. How does a trust work?
It is too complicated to completely describe here, but essentially, it’s a legal document that states who receives your assets after you pass and who’s in charge of the trust. Further, probate court is bypassed, if all assets are held by the trust.
6. What ultimately costs more: probate or a trust?
Usually, going through probate costs thousands of dollars more than using a properly drafted trust.