Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
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When a person dies, that person’s property can be classified as either 1) probate property or 2) non probate property. Probate property generally includes any property owned by the deceased person in his/her name alone that does not have a named beneficiary (i.e. solely owned bank accounts, security accounts and real property). Probate property must go through probate court. Now, if the cumulative value of a deceased person’s probate property (not including real estate) that would otherwise go through probate court is less than $20,000, that property can be obtained by the deceased person’s successors by the use of a Small Estates Affidavit.
Moreover, an estate is probated for the following reasons:
Someone is required to step into the shoes of the deceased person, so to speak, and carry out the business of the estate and pay the debts, taxes and expenses, and, in the end, see that the property is distributed to the rightful parties in interest. That someone is called the personal representative of the estate. All of these functions are carried out under the supervision of the district court.
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