Probate is the process through which a court determines how to distribute your property after you die. It is a court proceeding, which supervises the orderly and proper distribution of a decedent's assets to creditors and beneficiaries.
Probate is the first step taken in distributing assets to the beneficiaries of the deceased person. When a property owner dies, his assets are divided among the beneficiaries listed in his will. In some cases, the deceased does not leave a will which should contain instructions on how his or her assets should be distributed after death.
Probate assets can include the following:
- Real property that is titled in the decedent's name
- Personal property, for example jewelry, furniture, and cars
- Bank accounts that are in the decedent's name
- An interest in a company owned by the descendent be it a partnership, corporation, or limited liability company
- Life insurance policy of the descendent.
Why Work With A Probate Attorney?
The probate court process can be length complicated and filled with confusing terminology. There are three main reasons you should work with a probate attorney.
Conflicts: Sadly, after a death, probate issues can arise that create tension or even nasty disputes between families. We’ve seen estate proceedings tear families apart over arguments and bad feelings. A lawyer can help mitigate these situations and avoid unnecessary drama during what is already a stressful and emotional time.
Contracts: The are times where legal documents must be prepared during probate in order to fulfill the last wishes of the deceased individual, or to help the heirs properly arrange their inheritance. Things can get even more complicated if there is a business involved and bringing in a probate attorney can ensure that the right legal documents are in place for transferring or dissolving ownership.
Court: If you need to go before a judge during the estate proceedings, you’ll need a lawyer. If somebody challenges the will, it could lead to litigation and all parties involved will want a lawyer to represent them in court.
Our firm encompasses a broad range of legal services. Serving as counsel to executors of estates, many of which are subject to federal and state death taxes, our attorneys prepare federal and state death tax returns and defend the returns before taxing authorities.