Help for those facing probate

Probate in Johnson County can be a challenging process. We can help.

When a loved one passes, his or her estate often goes through a court-managed process called probate or estate administration where the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed. During probate, claims for amounts owed will be addressed, title to assets will be changed and any remaining funds distributed. The probate process begins upon filing with the applicable probate court. The person filing can either be the executor named in a will or, if there is no will, a person asking the court to be named administrator of the estate. Often, this administrator is the spouse or an adult child of the decedent. Once appointed by the court, the executor or administrator becomes the legal representative of the estate.

Every probate estate is unique, but most involve the following steps:

Filing of Petition

The petition is filed with the applicable probate court, a hearing date is set and notice is delivered to heirs and beneficiaries. Generally, a notice of the court hearing regarding the petition must be provided to all of the decedent's heirs and beneficiaries. If an heir or beneficiary objects, they are given an opportunity to appear at the hearing and do so. Often times a general notice is also published in the local newspaper. This is to attempt to notify others, such as unknown creditors of the decedent, of the beginning of the proceeding. As a result of the hearing, letters testamentary or letters of administration are granted allowing the executor or administrator to act on behalf of the estate.

Notice to Creditors

With the letters, the executor or administrator will provide notice to all creditors informing them of the probate case and allowing them to make a claim against the estate. The time for presenting such a case is limited by state law. During this period, the executor or administrator will create an inventory of the estate listing the assets and liabilities of the estate.

Liabilities are Paid

After receiving all claims against the estate, the executor or administrator must determine which claims are legitimate and pay those and settle other bills of the estate (e.g. funeral expenses, taxes). At times, certain assets of the estate are sold to pay these obligations.

Distribution and Re-titling of Assets

Following the waiting period noted in the initial step above and all approved claims are satisfied, the executor or administrator petitions the court for authority to transfer the remaining assets to beneficiaries as directed in the decedent's will, or, if there is no will, according to state intestate succession laws. Once the petition is granted, the executor or administrator may draw up new deeds for property, transfer stock, liquidate assets and transfer property to the appropriate recipients.

If no will or trust is executed during the decedent's lifetime, the above process will be necessary to wind up such person's affairs and release assets to his or her beneficiaries.


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Avoid Probate

If you leave your estate to your loved ones using a will, everything you own will pass through probate. The process is expensive, time-consuming and open to the public. The probate court is in control of the process until the estate has been settled and distributed. With proper planning, your assets can pass on to your loved ones without undergoing probate, in a manner that is quick, inexpensive and private.



Most people know about wills and their basic purpose – to ensure that one’s hard earned assets go to the right beneficiaries when an individual passes away. Wills are used to distribute your property, name a guardian for minor children and name an executor of your estate.



A living trust allows your property to be transferred to your beneficiaries, quickly and privately, with little to no court intervention, maximizing the amount your loved ones end up with. In a living trust, you name yourself as trustee, which makes you the person in charge of your property. As trustee, you retain total control of the property you transfer into the trust. You can amend your trust at any time and can even revoke it entirely.


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I love working with Todd Rasmussen an Estate Planning Attorney. He was super easy to work with. My advice is to not wait until it is too late.

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