Probate Court issues can confuse many who are already bearing the trauma of losing a loved one, even the slightest chores seem daunting. But people often find themselves in a probate court which, without experience, can be overwhelming. It is a dire situation, which can be easily ignored by drafting an estate plan or will beforehand.
When you find yourself in a situation like this, it is better to be informed beforehand and to know about how the probate process works.
With so much going on, taking out time to research and understand these matters can be difficult and some understanding of what happens is important.
What is a probate court, and what does it do?
A probate court supervises the management of an estate in the absence of a will or estate planning. It is a legal proceeding under the legal judiciary to minimize the chances of illegal acquisition and disputes among family members and deceased relatives.
A probate court has a jurisdiction dealing with matters around death, overseeing the distribution of assets in accordance with a will, or distributing assets of those who die without a will.
There are other issues too, such as declaring a person incompetent and appointing those who should administer an estate, overseeing guardians and conservators.
When a spouse or the deceased person’s son submits the will and death certificate of a deceased person in the county court, the probate courts validate the will. In cases where the deceased has not drafted any will or estate plan before their death, the probate court steps in to handle dispute claims of the estate.
Appearing in the probate court can be an intimidating experience at first, which can leave you confused and maybe scared.
Choose a probate lawyer
There are certainly plenty of probate lawyers in practice, but when looking it will depend upon the parties involved, including the complexity of the estate. However the most important steps is to choose a lawyer who has good experience with wills, trusts and estates generally.
Keep in mind that different jurisdictions will also have different issues to contend with. For instance, this article has come with the assistance of a probate attorney in Pasadena and the probate situation there, or in California, may be different in important respects from that in Arizona, Texas, New York etc.
Also keep in mind that there are different kinds of probate lawyer too.
Some clients want a litigator to handle probate disputes and lawsuits generally, while others require the services of a transactional attorney – the two can be quite different.
To process a probate situation a transactional probate lawyer will be fine, but to challenge a will or handle a difficult or contested situation where parties may be unhappy with how probate is handled or if there is likely to be an issue to be resolved – often in court.
Here’s what to expect with probate:
- As discussed above, the first step is to submit the will and death certificate in order for the court to validate it. The executor or close relative needs to file a petition for the opening probate.
- After the will or the estate plan is submitted, the probate court will validate its authenticity. It will ensure that it is compliant with state laws and regulations.
- The first priority of the executor will be notifying all the parties involved. The parties involved can be all the heirs and beneficiaries mentioned in the will or estate plan.
- The entire estate will be valued and taken into account. The executor will also be responsible for closing any account or debts in the name of the deceased. Then the estate will be closed after distributing the estate among beneficiaries.
How to take the stress out of the situation or the probate?
One can minimize stress by preparing an estate plan or will/trust. This makes it easier for the court to distribute the assets among beneficiaries.
With proper planning and thought, a lot of time can be saved. One can always take help from a probate attorney in drafting a will or estate plan. It also minimizes the stress on loved ones, as losing someone close is always difficult to cope with.
By already drafting a will or estate plan, one can have a sense of relief that there will be no disputes among the loved ones. It will provide comfort and your loved ones time to process the grief of losing someone important. In all seriousness, it is always good to be prepared for everything, even death.
Being forewarned on what to expect is forearmed, but knowing something about how probate operates and the processes involved will help make the process easier and better understood to ensure a satisfactory outcome.