Many people in Kansas City may be unfamiliar with the probate process. In general, probate is the process through which the court will sort through and transfer the deceased’s assets. Assets that are in a trust, or that pass to others as beneficiaries of an account that is payable on death, will not be subject to probate. However, the rest of the deceased’s estate will pass through probate.
While some probate cases are contested, many are not, and in this post we are going to focus on uncontested proceedings. In a typical probate proceeding the executor identifies and notifies creditors and heirs of the probate proceedings, collects of all the deceased’s property and assets, and pays any debts, claims or taxes owed by the estate. The remaining assets in the estate will be distributed to the deceased’s heirs according to the instructions in the will. The executor is named in the will; if the decedent died without a will an administrator is appointed by the court.
While people may leave a will dictating who should inherit their property, there may be situations in which the court may not follow the will. For example, sometimes surviving spouses have a right to inherit at least part of the deceased’s property. Creditors may also have a right to the estate assets.
Being named an executor is a big responsibility. Probate administration is often a very challenging task. If mistakes are made, they could cause legal problems. This post provides only a very basic overview of probate in Kansas. A person who has been named executor of an estate may want to seek legal help to ensure they fulfill their duties correctly.
Source: Kansas Bar Association, “What is Probate?,” accessed May 2, 2016