Probate / Estate Administration
In the midst of pain and loss, many families face the overwhelming task of administering their loved one's estate and going through the probate process. You do not have to do this alone. With the help of an experienced estate administration lawyer, you can share the burden of administration and enjoy the confidence that all details are accounted for and your loved one's wishes completed.
At Levine & Levine, our attorney provides personalized and experienced attention through every step of estate administration, assisting executors in each task to ensure that fiduciary duty is fulfilled and your loved one's wishes honored. Should the estate proceed through probate, we will assist in all probate court hearings and proceedings, representing you and your family's interests.
For more information about how we can assist in probate proceedings and estate administration, contact our firm for a consultation.
During estate administration, an executor is in charge of assembling all of the deceased's assets, property, real estate and debt for distribution. First, all debts and obligations must be paid. The remaining assets will be divided among the remaining, according to wills and estate planning vehicles that are in place.
In the probate process, the estate must be reviewed by a probate court to determine how assets are to be divided and debts paid, looking first to wills and the deceased's estate plan. Uncontested probate proceeds fairly quickly, simply making sure that all arrangements are in place. Contested probate, however, can be a more lengthy process. An estate is contested if a potential heir, lender, or another person claims that an error has been made.
Our attorney will represent your interests at each step in the administration to ensure that you and your family are protected and the process is completed as efficiently as possible.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process that occurs after a person's death to settle their estate and distribute their assets to heirs or beneficiaries. The probate process is typically supervised by a court to ensure that the deceased person's debts are paid, and their assets are distributed according to their will or, if there is no will, in accordance with state laws (intestacy laws).
Here are some key aspects of the probate process:
- Filing a Petition: The process begins with the filing of a petition in the appropriate probate court, usually in the county where the deceased person lived at the time of their death.
- Validation of the Will: If the deceased person had a will, the court will validate it through a process known as "probating the will." The court will confirm the will's authenticity and its legal validity.
- Appointment of an Executor or Administrator: The court will appoint an executor (if named in the will) or an administrator (if there is no will or no executor named) to oversee the probate process. This individual is responsible for managing the estate, paying debts and taxes, and distributing assets.
- Inventory and Appraisal: The executor or administrator is typically required to prepare an inventory of the deceased person's assets and have them appraised, as this is often needed for tax and distribution purposes.
- Notification to Creditors: Notice is given to the deceased person's creditors, allowing them to file claims against the estate. The executor or administrator is responsible for paying valid debts from the estate.
- Taxes: Estate taxes, if applicable, are settled during probate. This includes federal and state estate taxes, as well as income taxes related to the estate's income.
- Asset Distribution: Once debts, taxes, and administrative expenses have been paid, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries or heirs according to the will or state intestacy laws.
- Closing the Estate: After all the necessary steps have been completed, the court will issue an order to close the estate, officially ending the probate process.
The probate process can be time-consuming, complex, and costly, and it may also involve court fees and attorney fees. Some assets, such as those held in a living trust, life insurance policies with named beneficiaries, and certain joint accounts, may bypass the probate process.
Planning ahead with the assistance of an estate attorney can help individuals manage their assets to minimize the impact of probate and ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes.
For more information about how we can represent you and your family, please contact our law firm.
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