A client came to us a few months ago after her father had unexpectedly passed away. She was visibly upset and was trying her best to make sense of what to do next, so she looked to us for guidance. Tops on her list was what to do about her father’s estate — if there even was one, she admitted. You see, her father didn’t have a Will in place before he died. She had heard horror stories about probate and dying intestate but wasn’t sure what those terms even meant.
In all the years I’ve practiced estate planning, I see time and time again where friends, family, and even clients mistakenly confuse the terms intestate and probate. In many ways, they use them interchangeable when, truth be told, they shouldn’t. In fact, dying intestate is very different than your will going through probate.
Intestate vs. Probate — What’s the difference?
As discussed in previous blog posts, probate is the legal process that comes after a person has passed away. Simply put, it involves administering an estate and legally transferring a deceased person’s assets and property to their family members or beneficiaries. Probate gets a bad wrap, but in reality, all the court is trying to do is determine the rightful owner of a deceased person’s assets.
This includes everything from money to physical property, family heirlooms, and other items of value. Probate:
• Validates an existing Will
• Determines next steps when there isn’t a Will
• Resolves any creditor claims
• Assigns an executor or administrator
• Creates an estate administration
Meanwhile, intestate means that a person — in our client’s case, her sweet father — has died without a legal Will in place. Their assets will still go through the probate process regardless, but because there is no documentation from the deceased that explains who their family is and what their wishes are, the court is forced to figure out who the legal heirs of the estate are.
As you can imagine, dying intestate can make an already overwhelming probate process even more complicated. If you need help with this or any other issue, do not hesitate to give Caitlyn Ashley Law in Denton, TX, a call. We have devoted our lives to helping our clients and their families navigate any estate planning need or situation. Call us today!
Call Caitlyn Ashley Law today!!
Having a plan for the future is the most important gift you can give yourself and your family. Granted, none of us will ever know for sure what is around every corner in life. And just thinking about the what-ifs — what if I were to die or become incapacitated tomorrow; what if my child with special needs has no one to care for her; what if all my “stuff” isn’t passed onto the right people — can be overwhelming. But having a plan that accounts for your family’s unique circumstances, puts your affairs in order, has concrete solutions to your concerns, lays out your wishes and goals, and protects your family’s future provides peace of mind for the road ahead.
Caitlyn Ashley Law in Denton, Texas, will counsel you on which documents are best suited for your needs and ensure they are flexible enough to meet your changing needs for years to come.