What is Probate?

When a person dies in the state of Rhode Island, his or her estate often goes through a court-managed process called probate or estate administration where the assets of the decedent are managed and distributed. The state of Rhode Island has a probate court located in each of its 39 cities and towns.

What is involved in the Probate Process in the state of Rhode Island?

The length of time needed to complete the probate of an estate depends on the size and complexity of the estate. However, the minimum amount of time that an estate must remain open in the state of Rhode Island is for at least 6 months. The average estate will take 9 to 18 months to completely probate in the state of Rhode Island.
Probate in the state of Rhode Island will generally include the following steps: filing of a petition to probate or administration petition (if no Will exists) with the proper probate court; notice to heirs under the Will or to statutory heirs (if no Will exists); petition to appoint Executor (in the case of a Will) or Administrator for the estate; inventory and appraisal of estate assets by Executor/Administrator; payment of estate debt to rightful creditors; sale of estate assets; payment of estate taxes, if applicable; and final distribution of assets to heirs.

Can I avoid the Probate Process through sound estate planning techniques?

In the state of Rhode Island, probate can often be avoided through sound estate planning techniques such as ownership of certain property as joint tenants; gifting techniques; and through the use of a well-drafted and properly funded Living Trust. However, even though the court-managed probate process may be avoided the successor trustee needs to administer the distribution of the deceased.

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