While most of us have heard the word “probate,” unless we personally have been part of the probate process, we generally have little understanding of it. When a person dies, his or her estate will go through probate, a court-supervised process, unless an estate plan was earlier put into place which makes probate unnecessary. Every state has its own specific laws as to how probate is conducted through the courts. In general, however, the probate process locates and determines the value of the property, assets, and other possessions left behind by the decedent. Whatever bills, estate taxes, or inheritance taxes are owed will then be paid through the court’s supervision and whatever remains after all valid bills are paid is distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries of the decedent.
Many steps are performed to complete this process, starting with the appointment of a personal representative (executor) whose main task is to oversee the disposal of the estate. This individual will need to identify and protect the estate assets, identify and locate all known creditors, make public that the decedent has passed away and the estate is now in probate, pay any valid debts owed to creditors, file any needed tax returns, determine what the estate tax liabilities may be and liquidate any assets in order to pay them. Once all of this administration is done, the personal representative will be able to distribute the remaining funds or assets to those who have been named in the decedent’s will. The will must be validated through the court. If no will exists, then the decedent’s heirs as determined by law will receive the remaining assets.
The probate process can be complicated, tedious, and lengthy. It can also be costly and a very public procedure. Getting experienced and skilled legal help can help to ease, simplify, and expedite the process. This is because an attorney who is well-versed in probate in the state where the decedent lived will know how to handle all of the issues and complications that can arise.
To learn more about how he can help, contact the firm for a complimentary legal consultation at your earliest convenience.