Probate attorneys deal with the legal process during which the will is validated, the assets of the deceased are inventoried, and all debts, creditor claims (including applicable lawsuits) and taxes are paid. Then, once it is determined who is entitled by the probate proceedings, the remaining assets that were left in the will are distributed to the named beneficiaries and heirs. Probate attorneys and probate lawyers must understand that the probate process is generally overseen by an executor, if there is a will, or by a court, and a court appointed personal representative, if there is no will. Probate can take anywhere from six months to a number of years to be completed, depending on state laws and varying circumstances.
A will is probated in the county and state in which the testator (person who wrote the will) died. If the testator owned any property in another state, another probate proceeding will be started in that state and county. If the decedent dies without a will (intestate) and no beneficiaries are named, the courts will determine the hierarchy of heirs. Because of the legal complications that may arise in the probate process, many people try to put together their estate plans so as many assets as possible pass directly to their intended heirs. To assure your estate is distributed according to your wishes and to avoid as many legal complications as possible through the probate process, consult with an estate planning or probate lawyer in your area to formulate the best plan for your needs. At the Law Office of Matthew E. Rone, Inc., we are ready to assist you in this process.