When you are mourning the death of a loved one, there is a lot on your mind. Not only do you need to consider funeral and burial plans, but you also have to navigate your own feelings of grief and loss, which can be complicated and overwhelming. During this time, the last thing you want to think about is going through court proceedings. Unfortunately, you often do not have a choice.
Probate court is a mandatory process that must occur when someone passes away. Through this process, the court executes a number of tasks to ensure that the deceased’s assets are ready to be distributed to their beneficiaries. Though this seems straightforward, the process can be very complicated and intimidating, especially for grieving families.
If you are facing probate court, it is important to have as much information as possible before you begin the process. This can help you to feel more at ease during the process and ensure you understand what is happening. This way, you can make informed decisions that are in the best interests of your family and your deceased loved one.
One of the first things that happens in probate court is a review of the deceased’s will. During this process, the court reviews the will to ensure it is valid and legal and can be executed as it is written. In some situations, the will is not viable and must be discarded. In most situations, the court approves the will and reads it into the official probate court record. When this occurs, the will goes from being a private document to public information.
The court is not in charge of carrying out the will’s contents. Instead, they are simply reviewing the document to ensure its validity. The information outlined in the will is outside of their control if it is legally sound.
When a will has been reviewed, the courtnames an executor. This person is in charge of carrying out the information that is outlined in the will. In many cases, this means distributing assets to the correct beneficiaries and settling the deceased’s estate.
Many times, the executor has been outlined in the will. In other words, the deceased chose an executor before they passed away to ensure that the person in charge of distributing their estate was reliable and capable. If there was no executor outlined in the will, or if the person named is not capable of executing the job, the court may name someone else.
Another main facet of probate court is settling the deceased’s taxes. If they have any outstanding debts or back taxes, the court can take the money out of their estate to pay off what they owe. Unfortunately, this means the beneficiaries receive a slightly diminished inheritance.
There are ways to avoid paying these taxes and probate court altogether. However, these actions must be taken by the will holder before they pass away. Once the individual is deceased, any eligible documents must move through probate. Most people have at least part of their estate go through probate court when they pass.
Once the court has assessed the will, removed taxes, and assigned an executor, they can turn the estate over to the executor to be distributed. When this happens, court involvement is generally finished. It is up to the executor to carry out the deceased’s wishes. This person has a legal and ethical obligation to act and make decisions as the deceased would have wanted, to the best of their ability.
The executor’s job is extremely difficult. Not only does this person have to organize and distribute all of the deceased’s assets, but they must contend with other family members who may have opinions, questions, and concerns about what is going on. Sometimes, family members do not receive what they believe they are entitled to, and they take their anger and frustration out on the executor. In other situations, the will is ambiguous or unclear, and the executor must make executive decisions about what should happen. This opens the possibility of more disagreements and arguments. If the executor is a member of the family, this can place a significant amount of undue stress and burden on their shoulders
Though there is no way to avoid being an executor, it is possible to get help through a probate attorney. When you hire legal representation, we can help you to interpret and distribute the deceased’s property. Many times, family members feel more resigned to their settlements if they know that the will has been reviewed by an attorney. We also act as a third-party authority figure, which can help keep arguments at bay.
Help with asset distribution is not the only advantage of hiring a probate attorney. The probate process is often slow, and there can be delays in court. In some situations, issues with the estate or will can cause delays that last weeks or months. Some families can’t distribute assets until months or years after their loved one passes away. This timeline is inconvenient and frustrating for many families.
Probate attorneys can help to speed the process along by assembling proper paperwork and preparing you for court. They can also work with the court to overcome any delays and keep the process moving. Though they cannot fix all issues that may arise, they can certainly mitigate the frustration and damage that often occurs in probate court.
Many families find it immensely helpful to have a legal professional on their side during probate. Though your loved one may have hired an estate planning attorney before they died, that person is loyal to your loved one and cannot help you. A probate attorney, on the other hand, works directly for you. We are on your side and can advocate for your best interests, even when probate court becomes complicated.
Our team at Sweeney Probate Law has spent the last 50 years working in probate law. We understand the complexities and challenges, and we can help you overcome them with ease.
For more information about our services, please contact Sweeney Probate Law today.