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Probate Law

Dealing with the distribution of a loved one’s assets and processing the correct paperwork with the courts can be complicated.  We understand that the passing of a loved one is an emotional event and one of the most difficult times of life. We will do everything possible to make the probate process simple and easy.

What is Probate?

Probate is the court supervised legal process of administering and distributing a person’s assets after they pass away, either in accordance with their Will or state law.  These assets include bank accounts, real estates, financial investments, and vehicles.

What if my loved one did not have a will?

If there is no will, the loved one is said to have died intestate. This means that the loved one’s assets will be divided through their state’s intestacy laws.

What is an Executor and what do they do?

An Executor is also known as an Administrator or a Personal Representative.  Once a petition is filed and all heirs-at-law are notified, a Personal Representative (this term includes executors of wills and administrators of estates) must be appointed by the Probate Court and Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration are issued to the Personal Representative.  The Personal Representative must:

Collect and accumulate all of the assets, real personal and mixed.  There are non-probate assets such as jointly held bank accounts, life insurance policies with a named beneficiary, retirement/pension accounts with named beneficiaries, etc.

Sell assets, if necessary, to pay debts or expenses.  In some instances, you may need to obtain permission from the court before you are able to sell assets.

Pay all debts and expenses – creditors must be paid before the Personal Representative can distribute assets/inheritances.  The Personal Representative must publish a notice to creditors, and creditors must file their claims within the time prescribed by law.

Distribute any remaining assets – after all claims, expenses, and taxes of the estate are paid, the remaining assets can be distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries.

The Personal Representative may be required to file reports, inventories, or returns to account for administration of the estate, depending on the mandates of the Will and requirements of the Court.

When all debts, taxes, and expenses have been paid and all assets distributed, the Personal Representative can apply to the Probate Court to be discharged from office and all liability.

How long does this take?

This entire process can take anywhere from 6 to 18 months, or longer depending on the complexity of the estate.

Do we have to probate the will?

In some instances, probate can be avoided if:

All assets are joint, and the real property is joint with right of survivorship;

A revocable trust where you have full control of the property while you are living and upon death, a Trustee is named to transfer to those you designate as trust beneficiaries;

You have named beneficiaries on all bank accounts, life insurance policies, pensions and retirement plans, etc.

What now?

Let our team help you navigate the legal steps and explain the process to get the estate on the way to probate in a timely manner.  If you are the executor or a beneficiary of the estate, our probate team is friendly, compassionate, and committed to making the process as easy and simple as possible.

Contact our office for a free consultation now! 706-406-1649