Hi, my name is Jonathan Barlow. I'm a partner at Clear Counsel Law Group.
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Recently had a question asked about what is a double probate.
That can be a fairly complex probate question and before we get into the complexities of that question about what double probate is, I want to make sure that if you have any questions about a double probate after watching this video, wondering how it might apply to your situation, we do a free consultation here at our office that has no obligation to you.
We're glad to answer any questions you might have about the process. Often times during that free consultation, we end up resolving all of the questions for the client at that time and it costs them nothing to get the answers they need and they go on their way without any further obligation to us.
If it looks like there may be further questions or further legal work that has to be done, we'll give you a roadmap of where you have to go with that, what you might expect in the legal process, and we'll give you an estimate of the cost it'll be to hire the attorney to help you finish that part of the legal process. Again, that's at no obligation to you. We're happy to do that as a free initial consultation to answer any questions.
Let me tell you a little bit about what might happen in that consultation if you came in with a double probate question.
You're wondering "Hey, someone told me I have a double probate on my hands. What do I do?" As an initial matter, it's important to understand some basic issues about what probate is, how it arises, and how that could lead to this double probate.
First, What is Probate?
First of all, what is probate? A probate occurs when somebody dies and they have an asset, whether a house or a car or a bank account, whatever it might be, that is in the deceased person's name only.
Again, meaning there's no surviving joint owner, there's no beneficiary designated to receive that asset. Again, it has just the deceased person's name on that account, only the deceased person's name on the title to the house, something like that.
If you have an asset like that or if the deceased person has an asset like that, the only way to get that asset transferred to whomever it's supposed to go to is to go through the probate court process, which may be very simple or it may be much more complex depending on the assets involved.
What is Probate Court?
What is the probate court process? That is a process where the court oversees essentially the payment of your assets to whomever they're supposed to go to. The court oversees the payment of your debts and the distribution of your assets to your heirs or to those that you list in your will to receive your assets. So it's a process for somebody to take those assets through that and the court oversees where that money goes.
Let's assume that mother has passed away. When mom passed away, she had a house. The house was in just mom's name. However, mom was still married at the time of her death so she had a surviving spouse.
Well dad was still living in the house after mom passed away and he never bothered to go through the probate court process because again he was living there, he didn't think he needed to do it, maybe he forgot that his name wasn't on the title, everyone just assumed that mom and dad were both on the title to the house.
Some years later, I've seen this actually 25, 30 years pass before this pops up, dad dies.
Now the children realize, "Well we need to do something with mom and dad's house."
They realize well we've got to take care of dad's estate in probate court, meaning we got to get dad's property and assets distributed and transferred out.
In that process, they look at the deed to the house and lo and behold they discover that dad's name wasn't actually on the tittle to the house, it was just mom's name. Mom died 20 years ago.
Now It's Time to Discuss Double Probate
That gives rise to that double probate situation because when mom died 20 years ago, that house was in her name only.
In order to transfer that title, her estate, her property has to go through the probate court process. Now the interesting thing is when mom died, had her estate gone through probate, the persons that would have received her property, depending on various things, her husband, dad, would have received part of that property, would have become his property at that time.
Thus when he died, his interest in that property would have to go through probate court.
So that's where this double probate comes up. Mom died and had an asset in her name only. That's got to go through the probate court process.
The end result of mom's probate process is that dad's interest in that property goes to dad's estate. Then dad's estate has to go through probate to decide who gets it from dad's estate.
So we end up having to file two probate cases to transfer the same property from one person to the next, and from that person then to whomever is supposed to receive it at that point, whether that's the closest next of kin or whether he prepared a will and said "Under my will I want it to go to the following individuals."
This double probate can be a pretty messy thing, it usually happens and it surprises people that there was some asset that was in one person's name only that they didn't take care of many years ago.
It gets into some complexities that you have to resolve and go through this process.
We Can Help You With Complex Probate Matters
We here at Clear Counsel have done this many times and have dealt with this issue and helping people get through this process of resolving two estates in one shot and getting it done so that those assets are transferred on to the heirs that are entitled to them at that point.
So if you have questions about this, again we're glad to answer questions about probate, about a double probate again in a free, no obligation consultation where we can answer your questions for you.
If you have any questions about that, go ahead and give us a call at 702-476-5900 and we'll be glad to answer any questions you might have.