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Probate Lawyers

Probate lawyers, are often asked many questions surrounding estate planning and the probate process. In most cases, probate is essential after a person passes away, but when the proper estate planning hasn’t occurred, the process can be more complex than it needs to be. The probate process can run smoothly when there is guidance from an experienced lawyer. Unfortunately, probate can become highly litigious, especially without a will, as it can become a breeding ground for familial conflict. Testators and families will likely have several questions regarding the estate planning and probate process. While developing an estate plan can certainly mitigate problems, a person can pass away unexpectedly without a will in place. As a result, probate will be a critical path towards distributing assets and resolving the estate. 

What is probate?

When a person passes away, the estate’s contents pass through the probate process. This typically involves a judicial process by which a judge presiding over the case reviews and validates the will. In addition, the courts will officially appoint the estate administrator to ensure that all debts are paid and that assets are distributed to beneficiaries. The process is initiated when the death certificate is filed. Depending on whether the person has a will, the process will take two different routes. Without a will, the court will proceed with the intestate probate process. 

What happens when someone passes away without a will? 

Probate Lawyers, have consulted on cases where a person has died intestate or passed away without a will. When a family discovers that there is no will, it can be deeply unsettling, especially when considering the reality that the court may make decisions that they believe are in the estate’s best interest and according to the laws of intestate succession. The court will determine who stands to inherit the estate’s assets through this process. Keep in mind that sometimes, the court may even assign a court-appointed estate administrator to manage the process of paying debts, taxes, and distributing assets. 

Why is probate considered a public process?

Most people hold their wealth and assets close to the chest. However, when a will is filed with the court, it becomes public record meaning, anyone can access the will. As a result, the will and the estate could be at risk for people challenging the will. 

Is probate required if an estate plan has been developed?

Whether probate is a requirement will largely depend upon the estate planning measure taken before a person’s passing. If much of the assets are allocated outside the will, it may be possible to avoid having assets pass through probate. This can be achieved using estate planning measures such as trust accounts, designating beneficiaries, and joint tenancy. 

How long will it take for the probate process to resolve?

The length of time probate takes will depend upon various factors such as whether a person has a will, whether the validity of the will is disputed, whether unknown beneficiaries come forward. In addition to this, other factors will include the size of the estate and other estate planning tools that the testator has used. The typical probate process can take anywhere from 6 months to one year. However, when complications arise, such as familial disputes, the process can take longer. 

When a loved one passes away, grief-stricken families are often left to pick up the pieces. Even when a will is present, managing the process can be overwhelming.