Q: Do we have to go through probate court or can we get a decree of descent?
My father passed away in the state of Ks. He had 1 checking account without a POD, a house, cars and some land. Other money accounts had PODs. He did not have a will. How do we have to handle this?
A: Depending upon the size or value of the estate, the potential claims against the estate, and the agreement among the possible heirs, there are several options availiable to the heirs at law. Simplified adminstration allows for minimizing the oversight of the court and is generally available if the case does not require complex administration beyond the experience of the administrator, there are adquate assets to pay potential claims, and there is an agreement between the heirs. If no probate estate has been opened within six months of the date of death, a decree of descent allows for a single petition/notice/order procedure to transfer the assets to the heirs or their designated beneficiaires; during that six month period, no person has the authority to act on behalf of the estate. In certain circumstances, informal administration may be an appropriate single filing case to transfer property prior to the six months having passed (subject to creditors claims if a creditor surfaces prior to the six months having passed and causes an estate to be opened). You should have the assistance of an experienced attorney to select the best option and to prepare the filings for the court.
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