When a loved one dies, trying to manage their estate can be a daunting process. If you were named the executor of an estate, you’re probably well aware that this is a grave responsibility. But how does probate work in Indiana, and how can a probate attorney help?

What Is Probate?

Probate is the court-supervised process through which property and assets are distributed to family members and creditors after someone’s death. The process also gives the executor the authority to pay any debts and taxes.

When Is Probate Necessary?

Which assets need to go through probate? Only the assets the deceased person owned in their own name. Other assets can pass on to beneficiaries with the probate court’s oversight.

The following assets do not need to go through probate:

  • Property held in joint tenancy: Homes, bank accounts, and other assets held by more than one person. When one person dies, the other automatically gains ownership.
  • Property held in tenancy by the entirety: Property owned with a spouse, which becomes property of the surviving spouse upon death.
  • Bank accounts that are payable on death: Includes special accounts set to pay out to a specified beneficiary when the owner dies.
  • Property that is transferable on death: These deeds specify ownership transfer to a beneficiary when the original owner dies.
  • Retirement accounts and life insurance: If the account holder named a beneficiary, the funds don’t have to go through probate.
  • Living trust assets: Assets that are held in the name of the living trust trustee.

In Indiana, if your estate is “small” or worth less than $50,000, you may be able to avoid probate altogether.

Understanding the Indiana Probate Process

If you cannot avoid probate, an administrator will be named to handle the probate process, which usually takes place in the county where the deceased person lived.

If there is a will, the administrator will be responsible for making sure property and assets are designated appropriately. However, if there is no will, property may be distributed to beneficiaries by the court.

The administrator of the estate will be issued a document called “letters testamentary,” which will give them the ability to manage funds for the deceased person’s estate. As a personal representative, the administrator will have to correspond with banks, attorneys, and other officials to probate the estate.

Contact an Indianapolis Probate Attorney Today

A probate attorney can help you understand your responsibilities as executor of an estate. For answers to questions like “How does probate work?” and “When is probate necessary?” speak to an Indianapolis probate attorney at Barnes Cadwell Law today. We can help you navigate the probate process.