Certain folks believe if they've got their written will, when they pass away, their assets will automatically and instantly go to the kids (or their spouse, or... ) as is in the will. It's not so simple or quick.
This is one of my many judgment-related: I'm the Judgment referral expert, not an attorney. This article is only my opinion based on my long term experiences, please hire an attorney when you require legal advice.
After somebody passes on, without or with a will, their former assets usually must pass through probate before getting given to the person(s) mentioned in their will. Probate court is where you prove to a court, the status of the ownership of a dead person's assets.
Just because Dad's final will states that Cindy gets the Jaguar and Frank gets the house, doesn't mean that when Dad passes away, Cindy and Frank get them immediately, or other assets mentioned inside of Dad's written will.
To begin with, it needs to get proved to the probate court that the Dad really was the sole owner of the Jaguar and the house, clear and free. The ownership checking is performed by an Administrator (as appointed by the court when there is no written will) or the Executor (as named in the will).
An administrator or executor, files their proof at the probate court listings the full legal title, and also whether or not all of the loans and/or liens are clear on all the possessions listed. After it's proved to the probate court that the Dad was the only owner of the assets mentioned in the will, then the court reviews Dad's will to get the dispersement instructions.
When the estate is relatively small, there's not any requirement for probating the estate. The total estate dollar amount limit, changes (usually increasing) over time and is different in each state. Within California, the limit is now $150K. When an deceased's estate is less than their state's limit, the parties may bypass probate.
All probate records in court are public domain records. Anybody may go to a court and see the probate court records. You can look at celebrity records and/and anybody else to check out who received the assets.
With the goal to bypass both the public disclosure possibilities and expenses of a probate adventure, lots of folks having many assets start their revocable living trust; and transfer the majority of whatever they have to their trust.
If you are looking at the property deed at a recorder's building and the deed reads Sally Rogers and Jack Rogers had owned their property as a wife and husband, however the couple transferred the title to Sally Rogers and Jack Rogers; Trustees of the Rogers Clan Trust dated July 6, 2011, you'll know the couple has some kind of trust. Most trusts are revocable living trusts. A revocable trust may be modified anytime.
Trusts most often avoid probate as trusts have previously proven title to the decedent's estate assets. Trusts can keep the decedent's estate from being part of the public domain records, a possibly valuable privacy enhancing benefit.
Folks having property in the name of their trusts might have a will, to put things they might have previously forgotten to place inside the trusts. Revocable living trusts aren't legally separate from the trustees, as individual(s) are the owners of each property within a trust. That means property in this kind of trust aren't protected from aggressive creditors.
Probate and trusts are complicated topics, and this article summarizes the way these things often work. As you would expect, there's lots of exceptions, a lot of legalese and red tape as well. If you are enforcing a money judgment, probate court and divorce records contain a lot of good information.
Mark Shapiro - Judgment Broker - http://www.JudgmentReferral.com - the place Judgments go and are quickly Collected.