The probate process is lengthy, requiring strict attention to detail and experience handling multiple legal tasks at once. A knowledgeable probate attorney understands the implications of the interplay between administration, distribution and closure of an estate. Contact a probate attorney today to discuss your probate matter.
Probate is the legal process of validating and administering the will. When a person dies, the heirs and potential beneficiaries usually come forward to claim their rights under the deceased's will. The will is filed with the county clerk, submitted to probate court and then validated by the probate court.
If you are an administrator (or executor) of an estate, hiring an attorney early in the process can be valuable in heading off conflicts before they arise. Doing so may help you avoid litigation related to the settling of the estate and valuation of assets. If litigation does arise, you will already have an attorney working by your side to assist you.
If you are a potential beneficiary under the will, it is important to recognize when a problem may arise. Due to filing requirements, timing in raising an objection can mean everything. If you believe that the will is invalid for any reason, hiring an attorney as soon as possible is in your best interests.
Probate Is Required for Most Estates
Most estates are subject to probate. In rare cases, if a person dies with no heirs and no will, the estate simply escheats to the state. This means that all of the decedent's assets and property become property of the state in which that person resided. Since there are no potential beneficiaries, there is no one to whom the property may be distributed.
Usually, however, probate occurs whether a person dies with or without a will. When a person dies with no will (also known as dying intestate), but has at least one heir, the estate goes through probate. The settling and distribution of the estate follows state-defined intestacy laws. This means that, without a will, an individual has no way of controlling who receives his or her assets upon death.
When a person dies with a will, the will is probated. The estate is settled and assets are distributed according to the decedent's wishes. The will most often names an administrator, who is required to settle the estate. This process can be complicated. One wrong step can be the impetus for litigation based on improper administration or asset distribution.
Proper Estate Planning May Assist in Avoiding Probate
It is possible to avoid probate through the use of several different legal tools, including trusts, beneficiary designations for retirement and life insurance policies and joint tenancies with rights of survivorship. The requirements that must be met for this type of estate planning to be effective are intricate and complicated.
An Attorney Is Useful at Any Stage of the Probate Process
Whether you are in the midst of administering an estate or you are attempting to create an estate plan that will avoid probate and potential probate litigation, a knowledgeable and experienced attorney is vital. Contact Sheryl E. Fuhr & Associates today.