If you were named the executor for a loved one’s estate you may find that the probate process is daunting. Many individuals who enter the probate process in Indiana have questions, such as “How does probate work in Indiana?” or “What are the probate court rules?” We understand that you may have many questions about the probate process. This article will help answer the questions above and more.
At Rice & Rice, our attorneys have more than 75 years of combined experience in estate planning and probate matters. We know the Indiana probate laws and we use this knowledge to help our clients through the probate process.
When Is Probate Necessary?
As an executor, you must know that not all estates need to go through probate. If the estate subject to probate is valued under $50,000, it is considered a “small estate” which does not require administration. The small estate will either go through a simplified probate procedure or an affidavit process instead.
Additionally, in situations where a living trust was created, the estate may not be subject to probate. This is only the case if the living trust holds the decedent’s largest assets and assets outside of that living trust are valued under Indiana’s small estate limit.
Certain assets may not be subject to probate. The most common types of assets that may pass directly to heirs and beneficiaries include:
- Property held in joint tenancy
- Community property with right of survivorship
- Property held in tenancy by the entirety
- Beneficiary designations
- Property that is payable or transferable on death
- Living trust assets
- Retirement accounts and life insurance
The Indiana Probate Court Process and Rules
When you first begin the probate process, you must first be formally appointed as the estate executor. You must receive the appointment by the Indiana probate court. This is done by bringing the original copy of the Last Will and Testament and the Petition for Probate to the court in the county where the deceased lived.
Once the court appoints you as the will’s executor, you will receive Letters of Probate. Letters of Probate grant you the authority to manage the estate’s debts and assets. With this legal authority, you then enter into probate.
There are two types of probate administration, including:
Unsupervised administration is the simplest of the two types of probate administration. Generally, this type of administration is used in cases where there are no disputes.
To qualify, the following must be present:
- The estate is solvent. The estate is solvent when it has more assets than debts.
- It is authorized by the will or heirs. The will must authorize the unsupervised administration or everyone who may inherit must agree to this type of administration.
While executors in an unsupervised administration generally experience fewer disputes, probate is still a complicated legal process. Speak to a probate lawyer if you need assistance.
Supervised administration is appropriate when the probate court must be a part of the process. Court intervention may be right for your situation if:
- Beneficiaries do not agree
- There is no will and/or the heirs are unknown
- The will is unclear
- Assets are difficult to value or sell
Supervised administration is required when there are disputes or when an estate is not solvent.
With this type of administration, we recommend working with a probate lawyer. In supervised administrations, more paperwork is prepared and filed with the court and cases are generally more complicated. Probate lawyers are experienced in handling this lengthy process and can help you understand your responsibilities and options.
Getting Help from a Probate Lawyers
If you were named an executor and need help navigating the probate process, contact our law firm to speak with one of our lawyers. The Rice & Rice legal team is experienced in helping clients through the probate process. Our Indiana probate lawyers can help you understand your responsibilities as an executor and guide you every step of the way.
Our attorneys are here to help. With offices in Valparaiso, Lafayette and Granger we are uniquely positioned to serve clients throughout Indiana. Schedule a consultation by calling (219) 255-5285 or by submitting an online form.