Going through probate after someone you loved has passed away usually sounds like a sentence to months of paperwork that will be upsetting and possibly complicated. The process can certainly be complicated if you aren’t familiar with the procedure, but probate attorneys can take on some of the burden of the paperwork and details so that you can properly mourn and move on with your life. When you schedule an appointment, you are taking the first step toward a smooth resolution.The Roles of an Executor of Estate – Mom Blog Society
What Do Probate Attorneys Do?
Quite simply, they handle the paperwork for you by preparing the appropriate legal documents for the estate and filing them in a timely fashion with the courts. First, a petition will be filed to “open” the process. The court often names an individual who they want to assign as the administrator, usually the executor that the deceased had designated before he or she passed away.
The next step can be quite revealing. Probate attorneys will talk with you to determine what outstanding debts there are against the estate; they will also publish a “Notice of Creditors,” which has to be published in a local or regional newspaper. They should also prepare a Notice of Administration that will be sent to all other interested parties, including any heirs who could benefit from an inheritance. In general, creditors have a full 90 days to file a claim if they believe they are owed money. After all creditors have either been paid or failed to request payment in that time period, the administrator can distribute the rest of the estate to the heirs. After all assets have been disposed of, a Petition for Discharge will be filed by the probate attorneys in order to close the account.
Sounds Easy, But It Isn’t
It sounds relatively simple until you add family emotions, greed, and legal wrangling to the mix. In many families, some members are anxious to get a hold of what they feel they should have inherited and are surprised that it will be three months or more before anything can be settled properly. There may also be squabbling over personal effects if there was no will. Estate attorneys can calm down even the most irate heirs if they have the right experience working with heirs. They can also help guide you, the administrator, through the process. Many of these professionals are also experienced as elder law lawyers, so they will be understanding and helpful. In some cases, they may have been the elder law lawyers who helped your parents prepare their estate, giving them a definite advantage in court.
When Are Probate Attorneys Needed?
Even if you’re handling a relatively simple estate, it’s a good idea to meet with a lawyer before attempting the process yourself. If you miss the filing of even one document, you could drag the process out for months longer than it needs to be. You may also hear from individuals who feel they are entitled to a portion of the assets or who will battle you in court over anything from why you are an unfit executor in their eyes to accusations that you unduly influenced the person who died prior to the signing of the will. The more assets that are involved, the more important it will be to hire probate attorneys who can audit the estate and handle the details for you. You should definitely consult with experts if:
- There are multiple heirs
- There is a large amount of personal effects to be distributed
- There are one or more properties involved
- There is significant, unresolved debt
- There is a step-family complication
- Property is located in more than one state or country
- Assets are left to a minor child or someone who is mentally incapacitated
Regardless of the issues surrounding administration, at least one consultation with probate attorneys or elder law lawyers who are also estate attorneys can clarify any issues and help you avoid unpleasantness and resolve everything quickly so that you can move on with your life.