20 Apr WHAT IS PROBATE? AN OVERVIEW OF NEBRASKA PROBATE
Probate is the process that families go through to pass memories and money to family members after a death. In Nebraska, probate is handled in County Court. After you file the correct paperwork the clerk will assign a Judge and case number to your case. The Judge then names a person to handle the estate. The court order naming that person is called the Letters of Personal Representative. It gives that person the power to transfer the assets of their loved one to her beneficiaries. People commonly know this person as the executor. In Nebraska she is known as the Personal Representative.
During probate, the personal representative is responsible for gathering and protecting all of the decedent’s assets. The personal representative has a responsibility to the beneficiaries to protect and maintain the value of the estate. After gathering the assets and applying a value to the assets, the personal representative must provide the court and the beneficiaries with a list of the assets called an Inventory. The personal representative then proceeds to pay the bills, calculates and pays the death taxes and then distributes the estate to the beneficiaries.
The personal representative distributes the assets according to the wishes of the decedent. Those wishes are written in the decedent’s last will and testament. If there is no will, the assets are distributed according to the rules detailed in Nebraska Probate Law. These laws are referred to as intestacy laws.
In Nebraska, a vast majority of probate cases are handled by County courts (vs. city or district). The process is governed by the laws of Nebraska and can be a length process for a number of reasons. First, there are waiting periods built into the laws. For instance, after you open a probate case you have to wait 3 months for creditors to come forward. Secondly, estates tend to be complicated by hard to value assets, hard to find assets, finding assets of a person who has passed away, or disagreements between beneficiaries. These types of issues can add a great deal of time to the process.
In general, a probate case will take between six to nine months to complete.
Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies. It includes:
- proving in court that a deceased person’s will is valid
- identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property
- having the property appraised
- paying debts and taxes, and
- distributing the remaining property as the will (or state law, if there’s no will) directs.
Typically, probate involves paperwork and court appearances by lawyers. The lawyers and court fees are paid from estate property, which would otherwise go to the people who inherit the deceased person’s property.
In summary, probate is:
- A real court case,
- The personal representative is responsible for handling the estate and is liable for errors,
- In Nebraska, most probate cases are decided in County Court,
- As with any court case, there are deadlines that need to be met and penalties for not meeting them, and
- A probate case generally takes between 6 to 9 months to complete.