Why does probate exist?

On Behalf of | Dec 4, 2023 | Estate Planning |

Probate is a mechanism for the orderly distribution of a deceased person’s assets. It can also settle the affairs of a person.

It serves several important purposes, ensuring a fair and transparent transition of property and responsibilities.

Asset distribution and creditor settlement

In the 2021-2022 fiscal year, there were 83,459 probate filings in Florida. One primary function of probate is to oversee the distribution of a deceased individual’s assets. Without a clear process, disputes among heirs or beneficiaries could arise. Probate provides a structure for the identification, valuation and distribution of assets.

Moreover, probate ensures settlement of outstanding debts and obligations. Before distributing assets to heirs, the probate court ensures that creditors can make claims against the estate. This safeguards the interests of creditors and prevents beneficiaries from inheriting encumbered assets.

Will validity

Probate serves as a formal validation process for a deceased person’s will. The court examines the document to ensure it meets the legal requirements for validity. This step helps prevent fraud or coercion, as the court assesses the testator’s mental capacity and the absence of undue influence during the creation of the will.

Personal representatives

Another important aspect of probate is the personal representative. This individual (or bank or trust company) manages the estate throughout the probate process, including asset inventory, debt settlement and distribution to beneficiaries. The court’s involvement ensures that a competent and impartial person oversees these tasks.

Protection of minor and vulnerable beneficiaries

Probate also provides safeguards for minor or vulnerable beneficiaries. The court oversees the administration of these assets until the beneficiaries reach a specified age or meet conditions. This protective measure upholds the best interests of these beneficiaries.

Probate streamlines the settlement of a person’s estate. It plays a necessary role in maintaining order and fairness after someone passes away.