When a person passes away, the probate process is a necessary part of honoring their final wishes and ensuring that their property can be passed on to loved ones. No matter what stage of the legal process you are at, the attorneys at Sparks Law can offer critical advice and answer any questions you may have. Keep reading to learn more about navigating probate after the death of a loved one.
If you wish to participate in the estate distribution as the executor, your first step is to petition for Letters of Administration. This document allows you to step into the decedent’s shoes to serve their heirs, whether that be a spouse, children, parents, or other relatives.
Once you are served with that petition, you must acknowledge it (or dispute it). This puts you in the role of the executor, also called the personal representative. The executor is in charge of gathering assets, notifying creditors, paying any debts, and distributing the remaining shares. The distribution will either be according to the decedent’s Will or, if no such document exists, the relevant intestacy laws.
There are many potential issues that can arise during probate, all of which may lengthen the process. On average, probate takes a minimum of six months, depending on the cooperation of the heirs. Probate may take even longer now, with the pandemic affecting courts and legal proceedings. For this reason, it is best to work with a skilled attorney to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Even with a Will, probate is necessary to ensure that the document is valid. The probate process gives relatives a chance to challenge the Will, and any disputes can further delay the distribution of assets. If you are submitting a Will to probate court, you must locate the original document. If you need to use a copy, you may need to locate the witnesses of the Will’s signing.
Probate courts are also expensive. There are also various costs associated with the process—anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000, if not more for a complex estate. These expenses also depend on how willing the heirs are to cooperate.
There are many things to consider when validating a Will, which is why it is important to work with legal counsel both in creating testamentary documents and during probate. It is often a financially smart move to retain a skilled lawyer who can help expedite the process and cut down on probate expenses. At Sparks Law, our legal team is also experienced in helping clients plan their estates to ease the probate process for family members in the future. Call us today to learn more.