When Ed’s father died, Ed didn’t think that probate would be an issue for him. After all, Ed was an only child — what did he have to worry about in the way of other brothers or sisters to contest a will? Unfortunately, what Ed would come to realize was that there were a lot more issues that had to be dealt with to settle bills, transfer accounts, sell his father’s house, and more.
It’s easy to assume that being an only child is a formula for avoiding probate court, but the reality is that a number of questions must still be answered.
What are the assets?
In addition to the personal possessions, there may be financial accounts, investments, real estate, and other things to think about. Banks will require proper documentation to transfer accounts. And when real estate is among the assets, there’s a good chance that probate may be required. These considerations can necessitate a probate proceeding, even if only one child survives.
What are the liabilities?
Bills, claims, and other obligations also can present an issue. What needs to be paid, and when? What happens with benefits received after the recipient’s death? What happens if there is ongoing litigation or potential claims? These are topics for which guidance may be needed.
What else needs to be done?
Even if the assets and liabilities of the decedent are such that a probate proceeding is not required, there may still be final tax filings due. And there may be other things which the surviving heir may want assistance with, such as if there are business interests, assets that will decline in value if left unattended, or other specialized circumstances.
Whether a probate proceeding is necessary depends on the assets, liabilities, and other circumstances of the decedent. In some cases, probate may be avoidable, but some questions need to be sufficiently answered in order to make that determination. But the fact that only one child survives often is not the deciding factor.
The easiest thing to do is to have a strategy session, which can help identify whether or not a probate proceeding will be required. Call us today at 312-278-1187 to schedule one.