After a loved one’s death, it might be difficult to understand what to do next.
Amidst your grief, there are important legal processes to administer the remainder of the deceased person’s estate. This is known as the probate process, and its exact proceedings will vary by state and the circumstances of the estate in question.
But generally speaking, this refers to the process in which the court distributes a deceased person’s debts and assets left behind. It is a lengthy process that can quickly become convoluted, though there are key steps you can to help reduce some of the stress associated with this process.
Keep reading if you’re asking yourself “what should I know about probate court?”
Probate Law Overview
Probate is the legal process for administering the estate of someone who has passed away. This includes the review and verification of a will, if applicable. Otherwise, the court will distribute debts and assets as it sees fit in the absence of such a document.
This process involves many factors, including the assets, debts, and other circumstances of the estate at the time of death.
What Is the Probate Process?
As previously mentioned, the steps of the probate process depend on the location and the presence of a will. But generally speaking, the steps are as follows.
The court will:
- Review the last will and testament, if there is one available
- Appoint the executor of the estate or a personal representative
- Post bond to act as an insurance policy to reimburse the estate, should the executor commit a grievous error
- Locate the deceased’s assets
- Determine the date of death values
- Identify and notify creditors (to which the estate owes some debt)
- Pay the deceased’s debts
- Prepare and file tax returns
- Distribute the estate
While this may sound fairly straightforward, the actual proceedings can grow quite lengthy and complicated. This is especially true when no will is present.
With this in mind, it can be highly beneficial to hire a probate lawyer to assist you throughout the probate process.
Do I Need a Probate Lawyer?
While you technically could represent yourself in probate proceedings, the entire process can grow very complicated. This is especially true with multiple parties involved. The more emotional and highly-charged the proceedings become, the more contentious the entire process will be.
To ensure you are navigating the legal system as expeditiously and effectively as possible, it’s smart to consider the services of probate attorneys. With their skills and experience in this field of law, they will ensure your case moves through the system with minimal delays or discrepancies.
Now You Know About the Probate Process
Hopefully, this overview of the probate process makes the entire procedure less intimidating. While there are many moving parts, a good probate lawyer will help ensure the proceedings run as smoothly as possible.
For more information on the probate process and other legal procedures, check out our other content!