How Probate Laws Work in Vermont

When a loved one dies, you have more to deal with than the grieving process. While this is an important aspect of healing, there are still responsibilities someone must handle. Whatever assets were left behind must be managed and the wishes of the decedent honored.

Probate is the legal term for the process of dispersing an estate. The court gets involved to ensure the directions from the will are followed.

Is Probate Required in Vermont?

Probate is usually necessary in Vermont for most estates. It is the way assets are divided and distributed to heirs. The state law provides instructions for how probate is to occur.

How Do You Avoid Probate in Vermont?

It is possible to avoid probate with an estate. The best way to keep the entire estate out of probate is by creating a living trust before you die. The assets transfer to the persons named as beneficiaries, which going to court with probate.

You can exclude some assets from probate even if the estate needs to go through probate. These assets have someone named as beneficiary. For example, a life insurance policy wouldn’t need to be included if someone was named to be the beneficiary. Other assets similar in nature include retirement accounts, securities, stocks, and bank accounts with someone named as payable on death. Vehicles which come with a payable on death beneficiary won’t need to be included in probate.

Assets owned jointly won’t need to go through probate. The other surviving owners will automatically take complete ownership and have access to the assets.

Can an Executor of an Estate in Vermont be Compensated?

Yes, the state of Vermont allows executors to be compensated for the time they spend working on the estate and for any expenses they have. Any professionals the executor hires, such as attorneys or accountants, would be paid out of the estate rather than out of their own funds.

How Much Does an Executor in Vermont Get Paid?

The Vermont Statutes don’t provide for a specific amount of compensation or percentage. However, it does state that the executor can receive payment for expenses and reasonable fees. If the will makes a provision for payment, that takes precedence. The executor may renounce the amount given in the will. The court has final right to decide on the amount of compensation for the executor.

How Long Does Probate Take in Vermont?

The timeline from when probate is opened to when it is closed will vary based on many factors. You can expect a minimum of four to five months, since creditors are given this amount of time to file a claim. However, probate can take well over a year or even several years if there are complications.

Do All Estates Have to Go Through Probate in Vermont?

Most estates in Vermont will need to go through probate. Unless they are included in a living trust, they will need to go through a legal process to have the assets transferred to the heirs. However, Vermont makes some provisions for smaller estates, allowing them to avoid the lengthy process of regular probate.

Small estates are defined as those with a market value less than $45,000 and no real estate involved. The estate must present proof of funeral expenses paid, and the executor pay all known debts. Once this is done, the assets may be distributed and probate closed. The process is much shorter than with traditional probate.

Does a Will Have to Be Probated in Vermont?

A will must be filed with the court in the county where the decedent lived. The court will make sure it is valid if someone contests its validity. Even if the estate doesn’t need to be probated, it is still important to file the will. If other assets are found later or another will is presented, the first one should be recorded to protect the estate.

Settling an Estate in Vermont

Specific tasks must be completed to settle an estate. While those tasks don’t vary much from state to state, Vermont does have its own timeline, forms, and details based on state statutes.

While these steps seem simple enough, they can take a long time, especially with large estates. It can be helpful to work with a probate attorney to ensure everything goes smoothly or all issues are handled.

How Long Do You Have to File After a Death in Vermont?

The Vermont statutes require the person who has custody of the will to file it with the court within 30 days of learning about the death of the decedent. This is stated in Section 103 of Title 14 Chapter 3 of the state statutes. A petition to open probate doesn’t need to be filed at the same time, but it may be done at once. In Section 104, it states that probate should be opened with “reasonable promptness.”

Probate Court in Vermont

Probate in Vermont is handled by the Superior Court, which has a probate division. The state has 14 probate judges who are elected. To find information on the court for the county where the decedent lived, you can visit the Vermont Judiciary website: Court Locations | Vermont Judiciary.

Probate Code in Vermont

Probate requirements are dealt with in the Vermont Statutes Title 14. You can read them online at the Vermont Legislature website: Vermont Laws.