Probate

Probate is the legal process that takes place after someone dies. It makes sure property and possessions are given to the correct people, and any taxes or debts owed are paid in full.

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After you die, the person you named as Executor in your Will files papers in the local probate court. If you die intestate, the judge will appoint an Administrator. Your Executor oversees the administration of your estate during the probate process, which can take from a few months to two years; in some cases, even longer.

We help executors or administrators through all steps of the process, including providing notice to specific individuals and filing the necessary paperwork with the probate court in a timely fashion.

FAQs

What is Probate?

Probate is the process of providing an orderly transfer of title for the decedent’s property to those who are entitled to receive it. The Probate Court oversees the estate process to ensure the decedent’s wishes are followed as stated in the Last Will & Testament.

Is Avoiding it Possible?

Yes, avoiding probate is possible. Whether your estate avoids it altogether depends on how your estate is planned. The way assets are titled or how property is held makes a big difference once the owner passes.

If Avoiding Probate is Not an Option, Who is Responsible for Managing the Probate Process?

The person you nominate as executor in your Last Will & Testament will be responsible for carrying out your wishes. This person has to apply to the Probate Court to be officially appointed to this position. If a person does not have a Will then someone needs to be appointed by the Court as the administrator of your estate to manage the process.

What Happens During the Probate Process?

The process is started by filing certain documents with the Probate Court to open up the estate, to provide certain notices to those parties entitled to notice, and to appoint a fiduciary. Certain documents are required to be filed at specific times to show the Court what is going on with the estate.

What Are My Options for Avoiding Probate?

The options for avoiding probate depend on the assets you own. Real estate can be titled with rights of survivorship, automobiles can be titled with transfer on death beneficiaries, and bank accounts can be titled with payable on death beneficiaries to transfer these assets outside of probate.

What is a Will?

Your Will is a legal document where you state how you want your property to be distributed, who you want to carry out these wishes, and if you have minor children you may create a trust and/or nominate guardians for your children.

Who Should Draft my Will?

It is best to meet with an attorney when creating and finalizing your Will. You want to make sure your wishes are correctly taken down and understand how the law in your State works to make sure your wishes can be carried out according to the terms of your Will.

What Happens If I Die Without a Will?

If you die without a Will your personal property is distributed according to the descent and distribution statute of the state where the decedent was living at the time of death.

Can I Appoint a Guardian for My Children in My Will?

You can nominate a person to become guardian of your children in your will. There is no guarantee that the person nominated will become the guardian. However, when a court is appointing guardians of minor children they will look for guidance from your Will as to who you thought would be appropriate guardians for your children.

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With over 1,000 families assisted and an award-winning practice, David J. Smith is your best bet for securing your family’s financial freedom. Contact us today to schedule a FREE consultation and sleep soundly tonight.

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