This Article Written for Willhoite Law, PLLC
Once a person, especially a loved one dies, the days, weeks and months immediately afterward can be highly emotional and complex for all involved. What happens to a person’s belongings, their property, and their money after they die? The process of naming an executor, verifying a will and determining the decedent’s wishes is called probate. At this time, it is not uncommon for deep-seated issues to arise and the unexpected can happen too. When heirs thought they got along, major disagreements can come out of the doors, causing a full-blown legal battle between the heirs of the property.
Probate is a process that identifies the deceased person’s assets and provides for the legal transfer to the intended heirs. After someone dies, their financial matters must be properly addressed. All the real estate property, bank accounts, jewelry, automobiles and such are all considered a part of their “property.” Upon the decedent’s death, their property will go into what is legally called “probate.” Probate is an important and necessary legal procedure which protects property as well as the wishes of the decedent. It can be a somewhat lengthy process; however, it is entirely important.
Probate is a legal procedure where the property of a deceased person is administered. With probate, all claims against a deceased person’s property are settled, as well as the distribution of their assets in a way that is in accordance with the decedent’s wishes. The procedure can identify debts, value property, pay debts and taxes. It involves the filing of paperwork, public notices and court appearances by the probate attorney.
A probate attorney has the important task of making certain that all claims and divisions regarding the deceased person’s property are done fairly and according to the law. When a person has left a will, there may be questions about the validity and proper distribution. Many times a will includes the appointing of a representative, called an executor, who will help in carrying out the wishes of the deceased. The executor is often selected because he or she is a trusted family member or business associate.
The probate process typically takes around a couple of months from start to finish. While this time, the validity of the will is verified and an executor or administrator is named. If the decedent did not earlier name an executor to their property, the court will name one for them. At times naming an executor may be entirely seamless, while at other times the heirs may have a dispute as to who is named the executor of the property.
As with any legal process, a number of legal factors are addressed during probate including: creditors are notified and legal notices are published, executors are notified of their fiduciary duties and are informed about creditor’s rights, property such as real estate may need to be sold in order to pay debts or in order to distribute assets amongst the heirs, estate and inheritance taxes must be taken into consideration and assets may need to be transferred to heirs among many other factors that need to be taken into account.
Probate is a very complex area of law, whether you are an executor or an heir, it would be wise of you to get the services of a probate attorney at Willhoite Law, PLLC. As an executor, you have a fiduciary duty to obey to the highest moral and ethical standards, all the while conforming to the law through the execution of your duties. Failure to carry out your duties in a way that is expected can result in negative legal outcomes that should be avoided at all costs. An attorney can advise you of your rights as well as assure that you carry out your duties to the full extent of the law.
As an heir, it is not uncommon to encounter inaccuracies to the will in question, illegal activities or even poor performance by an executor or administrator. Moreover, the process of probate is usually anything but seamless, whether you encounter disagreements with other heirs or if you feel that you are somehow being cheated or victimized by other heirs, then it is simply important to retain legal representation during this highly volatile time in your life. Probate case is often a necessary tool in order to ensure that your rights are fully protected during the probate process. An experienced probate attorney will be your first line of defense from dishonest or unfair tactics which are aimed at your disadvantage. Since probate can become highly volatile, especially considering the amount of money at stake, having an attorney will ensure that your best interests are looked out for during probate.
A probate attorney is a state licensed lawyer who knows law aspects enough to advice estate executors and heirs on settling the matters of a deceased person. The lawyer is also referred to as an estate attorney and is responsible for handling personal representatives throughout the probate process until everything is settled. He will take the representative through trusts, wills and estate planning among many other things.
A good probate attorney generally has years of continuous legal training, experience and mentoring. They are all important in making sure that he performs his duties beyond expectations. The probate process and requirements can depend on the deceased’s state and the probate laws governing it. The probate laws will apply depending on where the deceased lived and died and where he owned estates. A valid testament of the last will can also determine how the process is conducted.
Hiring a probate attorney to protect your interests does not mean that you are in any way a selfish or stubborn person, it simply suggests that you want to ensure that your rights and entitlement are dutifully protected. There have been countless examples over the years where greedy and dishonest heirs went so far as to commit fraud or take advantage of an ill or sick loved one. You have every right to protect your best interests as well as what is rightfully yours. Having a knowledgeable attorney at Willhoite Law, PLLC by your side can make all the difference in how the assets are distributed in the end. Once the court has determined the estate is ready to close, the probate judge provides the documents to legally transfer acquired assets to the right title and the property is transferred to the heirs and the probate process will come to an end.