The concept of a Will is commonly understood to be a way of passing on a person’s assets after death. The will says who should manage the distribution of assets to the heirs according to the directions given in the will. This may seem pretty straightforward but it is often more complex. That is partly because the will does nothing until it is probated.
Most of us have heard at least one or two stories about the difficulties one can encounter navigating the probate process. The experience is often made harder because the executor may be a loved one experiencing grief along with new responsibilities.
Probate is the legal process of administering an estate and resolving all claims to assets and property the process is often dictated by a valid will, but also applies when a person dies without having signed a valid will. The process involves validating a will and interpreting the intent and instructions contained with the will or following statutory dictates in the absence of a controlling will.
Probate involves not only the distribution of an estate, but also resolution of any creditor claims and assignment of an executor or administrator. The process works on behalf of heirs and other parties who may have claims against the estate.
Probate Law Includes:
Estate Administration – In cases where the decedent had no will (intestate), the court may appoint an Independent or Dependent Administrator to oversee the administration and distribution of the decedent’s property and assets. In the event there is a valid will, the court can appoint an Independent or Dependent Executor or Administrator to perform these duties.
Contested Wills – These are situations where, as it sounds, an heir or a possible heir has reason to claim that the will that has been probated is either not the most current will or it is not a will that was created when the decedent was of sound mind.
Contested Trusts & Estates – Like contested wills, these are situations where a trustee or a possible trustee has reason to claim that the Trust in question is either not the most current rendition of the Trust or it is not a Trust that was created when the Trustor was of sound mind.
Estate Litigation – This is a broad category that includes any dispute in regards to estate planning and estate planning documents.
Probate Litigation – Probate litigation is also a broad category that includes any dispute that lies in the jurisdiction of the Probate Courts, which typically includes wills and Trusts and disputes about assets when a person dies without having a valid signed will.