Wills, Trusts and Probate
A Will, sometimes called a Last Will and Testament, is a document that states your final wishes. A will can include any and all personal and community property. You can wish to leave your belongings to one individual or to multiple individuals. You may even wish to will certain percentages of property to different individuals.
When a person passes, the individuals who wish to acquire the property that was left to them must file a Probate case with the Superior Court in order to have authority to gain ownership of the property. The will is a part of the Probate case and it will be followed closely.
Probate is a legal process that takes place after some one passes away. Even if someone has executed a Will before they passed, the heirs must still file a Probate case to establish validity of the Will. If there is no will, someone must ask the court to be appointed the Administrator of the decedent's estate in order to make decisions as to the disbursement of any property. During the probate case, an inventory and appraisal of the property to be disbursed is provided to the court and an order and letters are issued.
A Trust is an arrangement set up before someone passes that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets of the heirs, or beneficiaries. When a trust is created, the person's assets are then owned by the trust. When the creator of the trust dies, it is not necessary to go through Probate because the owner can still operate and disburse assets; saving the beneficiaries the time, filing fees and possibly reducing estate taxes.