Why You Need a Probate Property Attorney

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Working with a Probate Property Attorney

For decades, we have built the perfect reputation for delivering positive outcomes and cutting-edge representation across probate issues as probate property attorneys. Our clients value longevity and loyalty, and many select our firm because they trust the stability and strength that we have built over time. We are proud to serve clients today that we began assisting years ago.

When you become an executor, your role is to administer only the property that is part of the decedent’s estate. Some properties, such as jointly owned property, don’t need to go through the probate process. For instance, if a house is owned jointly by the wife and the husband, and one of them dies, it passes automatically to the surviving spouse.

This means that the house will never become part of the estate because it automatically goes to another person. Therefore, the executor won’t be responsible for the property as part of the estate.

For Example

 

Gerald passes away. He has a house worth $300,000 and a checking account with $50,000 in it, owned by him and the wife. His other assets are a 100 dollar bill found in his pocket when he passed away. Assuming that under the state’s laws, the spouse gets the house and the bank account automatically, and all the executor has to administer is the $100 bill.

ESTATE PLANNING LAWYER

Marianna Schwartsman

The Size of the Estate Matters

If the testator is married and had time to make the perfect estate plan, then there should be minimal possessions to administer. However, this means you have to dig to understand what form of ownership exists for the property.

On the other hand, the testator might be single or have some business interests. When this is the case, there is a high chance that the property is a lot, and it might go probate. The more extensive the property, the higher the chances that the federal and state estate taxes need to be paid. Tax obligations aren’t a huge problem, but they mean that you have to spend more time handling the estate.

Talk to a “probate property attorney near me” to get an idea of the size of the estate.

Presence of Real Estate or Business Interests

In many cases, the testator might have owned the house in their names only. Issues arise when there are investment properties as part of the estate. These include a medical practice, a merchant store, or a business premise.

Investments and real estate mean more responsibilities for the executor. This is because the profits, losses, and expenses need to be accounted for carefully to the estate’s courts and heirs. Additionally, if the decedent had business interests located out of the state or lived out of the state and had property in the state.

When this happens, the only way to handle the estate’s administration is to use a probate property lawyer that understands the running of estates and the probate process. You might also encounter additional taxes that mean more work for you.

A local probate property attorney knows more about handling estates than other lawyers out of the state. Work with us today to make sure you have facts before making a decision.

Former Spouses

There are many clauses in the law whereby former spouses can claim a part of the decedent’s property. Some might claim all or part of the property, whether there is a will or not.

Example:

You are named as the executor to the estate, and when you access the will, you find out that the decedent stated, “My wife is to inherit my entire estate.” The decedent had more than one wife after the will was drafted. Who gets the estate? The first or last wife?

All the spouses might argue that they are the wife that the will stated. There are various legal interpretations among the counties as to what such a statement might mean.

The point here is simple – you don’t want to be caught amidst legal battles between spouses that can last for years. Talk to us about divorces and former spouses. You also need to understand that the kids can also lay claim to the estate – ask about the presence of illegitimate kids and their claim on the estate, adopted kids, or children that have been left out of the will.

Lawsuits by the kids of the decedent can also tie you up in court. in this period, you need to look for probate property attorney online services to help you make a decision.

The Level of Estate Planning that Has Been Done

As a general principle, the will-maker should leave as little as possible in their estates. You can pass on property to your loved ones without the need to go through probate.

Before you decide to be an executor, try and understand how much estate planning has been done. You also need to find out if the will-maker worked with a lawyer before and how far they had come with estate planning. This is vital, especially when several issues have cropped up with the estate.

The more estate planning has been done, the smaller the estate becomes, and thus less work for the executor.

Storing the Will

The will is a vital part of the probate process, and when you lose it, you make the process longer and more tedious for you. This is why you need to store it properly. As an executor, one of the roles is to ensure the will is safe and kept in a safe place. The executor can check with the courthouse to see if the will can be admitted to probate. This recording makes the will public meaning that it cannot be destroyed or lost.

If you cannot record the will in the state, make sure you keep it in a safe-deposit box.

Many people leave the will with an attorney, but we don’t encourage this unless you have worked with the attorney for a long time, and you trust them. Remember that lawyers change jobs, they retire or they pass on just like any other person. Additionally, law firms can break up or merge, and in the process, the file that contains the will might get lost.

Business Interests

Despite the best estate planning, some of the properties might still end up in probate anyway. For instance, many business people have practices and premises. This business can be a sole proprietorship or a partnership. Other forms of ownership are available, which you need to be aware of.

If the decedent was involved in a partnership, you need to determine his role in the whole arrangement and ask for a copy of it. This agreement will state what happens when the partner passes away and where his interests in the business go.

Many times, the agreement might state that the other partner buys out the stake of the decedent. In this case, the executor needs to make sure that the estate gets a fair buyout. In many cases, the proceeds of the buyout are distributed among the beneficiaries.

Your responsibility as an executor will increase significantly if there is a dispute on the buyout.

Things get even more complicated when there is a corporation involved. Whether you will be involved in the business entirely depends on the amount of stock that is involved. If the decedent owns all the stock, you have to run the business until it gets liquidated and the proceeds are distributed to the beneficiaries. Make sure you request a copy of the articles of incorporation and a shareholder’s agreement.

These documents will state what happens when a shareholder passes away. Again, there can be the possibility of a buyout, which can lead to a dispute. On the other hand, if the decedent owns a small amount of stock in a huge company, this is easy because you can just sell it off and then distribute it.

If you find yourself stuck in a rut with nowhere to turn to, and then call us so that we can advise you on what to do and how to do it.

Opening the Estate

This is the initial legal step in administering probate assets. The process differs from county to county; therefore it is prudent to contact the probate court in a respective county to understand what you need to do so that you begin the process the right way.

Once you know where to go, understand that each state has its regulations, rules, and required forms that concern the estate’s opening. The county will categorize the estate in various ways – regular and small estate.

A regular estate complies with all the procedural requirements and the restrictions. A small estate goes through a more straightforward process and takes a shorter time.

Opening the estate needs you to file forms that are required by the state. You might get the forms in the mail, or you can send someone to pick them up.

When you admit a will to the probate court, you are given letters testamentary, which is just a court order that approves you as the executor of the will. This is a court order for a person that died with a will. If the decedent died intestate, you get a Letters of administration. When you get to the clerk’s office, make sure you tell him what type of letters you are applying to get the right forms.

The forms need you to come with the following:

  • An original copy of the will.
  • The original copy of the death certificate.
  • Information about the witnesses in the will.
  • A bond that will protect the beneficiaries of the will and any other third party should you fail to carry out your mandate correctly.
  • A list of people that are interested in the state.
  • A preliminary inventory that summarizes the value of the estate’s assets.

After completing all forms with the court, you will get a mail that the letters you requested are in. we can help you with handling probate property the right way.

Meeting with Your Probate Property Lawyer

During your first meeting with the probate property lawyer, there are several questions that you will be asked. You need to be ready to provide all the information required to initiate your case at the probate court.

Your goal is to make the most out of this initial meeting. Some lawyers offer free initial consultation while others charge an hourly fee. You need to find out before the meeting so that you do not get into unnecessary debt.

Your lawyer uses the information you provide to assess how strong your case is likely to be. Here are some of the things you need to do during this time.

Provide the Right Contact Information

For your probate property case to progress smoothly, you will need to remain in constant communication with your lawyer. You therefore need to be prepared with the following contact information.

  • Your home address
  • Your telephone number
  • Your email address

You also need to provide contact information for any other person involved in the case. The lawyer may need to speak to them when the need arises.

Have Key Facts of the Case at Your Fingertips

Your lawyer may not have all the time to listen to your story. Spare a few minutes and highlight any key facts associated with your case before getting into the meeting.

Having these facts listed down makes your meeting more efficient. You can outline them in chronological order while also listing any key dates associated with each fact. It also ensures that you do not forget any important details.

Some of the information may include:

  • Date when the loved one passed away
  • Disputes associated with their estate and the key players
  • Names and details of the beneficiaries
  • Names and details of the executor
  • Current status of the case

You should also include a description of what you desire to see as the outcome.

Get the Relevant Evidence

For each of the facts, also make sure that you have the associated documents for the lawyer to see. The nature of your case is determined by how much evidence you have. As you plan to meet with the probate property lawyer, be sure to carry any contracts, agreements, property titles, photos as well as copies of the decedent’s will.

Collect these documents and organize them nicely before the meeting. Some probate lawyers may assist you by sending you a form that outlines what is required for the meeting. You can fill the form and send it to them beforehand so that the lawyer gets time to go through it before the meeting.

Have Clear Goals

Think about the specific objectives of going through the probate process. What do you want the probate attorney to accomplish on your behalf?  Have a clear picture of the perfect outcome of your case and share it with them.

Whether this outcome will be achieved depends on the kind of facts and laws associated with your probate case. If what you have as goals cannot be achieved, your probate lawyer will explain this to you and recommend the best solution.

Establish any Conflicts of Interest

Before signing an agreement with your probate property lawyer, be sure to find out if there is any conflict of interest that may arise in the future. List everyone that is directly involved in the case. Have the lawyer go through the names to confirm that they are not representing any of them, especially those that are likely to contest the decedent’s will.

Why Work with Us?

The loss of a loved one poses many challenges to friends, family, and relatives. Most people do not understand how to deal with the loss while handling legal matters simultaneously.

One of the most pressing legal issues to be handled at this time is probate property. The process may be simple or tough, depending on how the decedent planned their estate. Having a will in place is often quite helpful. With the assistance of our firm, you can get the process completed as soon as possible.

As a probate property attorney, my practice is always concerned with how delicate and sensitive probate is. However, the whole experience can be expensive and time-consuming. Our team of experts works closely with you to ensure that the estate’s transfer is carried out smoothly. We always encourage individuals to consider making early estate planning decisions to avoid probate entirely. However, this is not always the case for most people.

Where probate is necessary, we always work with you to explore the available legal options. Our firm has a strong reputation when it comes to handling probate cases. We aim at doing things differently. Here are some reasons why you should choose us over other firms:

We Focus on Meeting your Needs

Most of our clients are trustees, administrators, as well as executors of estates. We take time to understand your concerns and needs. We have customized forms and surveys that enable us to capture every detail of your case.

Our commitment is to meet your interests diligently. We invest our time and resources in your case and are eager to help you with any challenge that you face. We handle everything to start.

We Possess Adequate Knowledge in Probate Laws

The probate process interrelates with several legal and court procedures. Traditional executors may not have the right experience to handle legal matters. Our attorneys have special training and experience in handling most issues associated with probate.

Clients select us because of our straightforward approach as well as our solid communication practices. We are a full-service probate firm and can handle every aspect of your case from filing documents, representing you in court, and conducting any investigations as required. We are fully aware of how important this process is to you. That is why we are committed to offering you the best legal help.

We have a Strong Network

We possess strong connections within the state. We are conversant with most probate courts and can help you identify the best network of professionals to handle your case.

We treat all our clients in high regard. We leverage the networks we have to ensure that you receive the right advice and strategic plans of action. We tailor our approach to every case and do not make use of generalized templates.

Besides representing individuals, we have also worked with several businesses and firms. We aim at maintaining good relationships with our clients as we serve them. We are proud of being associated with the people that come to us for assistance.

We Offer Competitive Prices

We offer our services at very competitive fees. We are also flexible when it comes to meeting your needs. In case you are not able to meet with us during office hours, our attorneys can always adjust their schedules to meet you in the evening or during weekends.

Our previous clients appreciate us because of our level of flexibility. We do not charge you extra for these adjustments.

We are Goal-oriented

We focus on success. We handle your case with success in mind. We respond to clients’ questions quickly and work using the best legal strategies. Our team is known for providing results-oriented services that are grounded on experience.

With the experience we have, we can anticipate any challenges that may arise and develop strategies to overcome them. We understand that a lot may arise during the process. We are always prepared to represent you more effectively and aggressively.

We have a Great Reputation

We have been in service for several years. We always use our experience to win even the toughest legal arguments on behalf of our clients. We rank among the best legal firms in the region, having successfully served numerous individuals and organizations.

Whether you are an executor or a beneficiary in the midst of a dispute, we can help you achieve your goal without jeopardizing your case. We understand what it takes to protect the interests of our clients. We ensure that the process is completed as fast as possible. We keep our promise.

We Protect your Assets

The outcome of a probate process may result in loss of estate assets. This is common in cases where a loved one dies intestate. Whether your goal is to contest a will or to preserve its guidelines, we always ensure that the results of your litigation are positive.

We are highly experienced in handling estates that involve minors. The probate court treats such cases more keenly because a reliable guardian must be appointed to handle the estate until beneficiaries who are minors attain a certain age.

We represent you in a way that ensures the preservation of property and estate funds.

We are good at Handling Complexities

Not all probate law firms are equipped to handle the difficulties that arise during probate. We have heard of situations where cases were handled half-way by an attorney due to disputes.

We understand how overwhelming the loss of a relative can become. We also appreciate the fact that disputes arising during probate can make things worse for you. Trying to handle such disputes on your own is almost impossible.

We help you to establish a legal ground for such disputes and how to go about any complications that may arise. Our team of experts has sufficient knowledge about all the legal complexities of probate and can help you avoid making the wrong decisions.

Hiring us ensures that your case is handled by skilled professionals who understand what actions need to be undertaken at each step of the process.

Estate planning lawyer

Probate Property FAQs

When a will is termed as invalid, it merely means that asset distribution is now done under the court’s rules as when someone has died without a will. In such circumstances, the chances of asset distribution being unfair are high.

A court can consider the will not valid if it wasn’t duly signed, the owner made the will while ill or mentally unstable, if there are more than two contradicting wills or if they did it under duress.

The court will have the property undergo probate, locate all the potential heirs, and use their due diligence to distribute the assets. In such situations, many family members contest the will, especially when they learn that they have been left out of the inheritance.

The probate court handles the whole probate process and all matters that involve the will and asset allocation. Depending on the validity of the will, the court is responsible for ensuring that the right beneficiaries get their share, but first, all creditors and taxes owed to the government are paid.

Once they have determined the above, the court oversees the distribution of the remaining assets to the right rightful beneficiaries, as listed in the will. They see to it that the wishes of the decedent are fulfilled.

In case of any contests to the will and the probate property, the court ensures that this has also been settled, and the right decision has been made concerning the estate.

The type of taxes paid on probate properties varies from one state to another. However, there are common types of taxes that are charged against probate property. These taxes have to be cleared before any asset distribution. One can use part of the assets to settle these taxes:

  • Inheritance tax: This is the tax imposed on beneficiaries depending on the number of assets they will have inherited. The bigger the inheritance, the more taxes one has to pay.
  • Income tax: this is the usual tax imposed on any financial income or profit that the assets would have generated over a period. This is done by filing annual tax returns, but if the records are not up to date, then the executor has to make sure that these taxes have been paid in full.
  • Capital gains tax: This is the tax that is paid once one has disposed of the probate property. It mostly comes about if the probate property gained value while still undergoing probate, which often happens. With the new property value, there is a tax that one has to pay to the government.

This is one of the roles of the property’s executor. Sometimes the inherited property will have accrued debts like mortgage, insurance, real estate taxes, etc. Once the executor has applied for a grant of probate, they need to publish a public notice for any creditors to come forth with claims. This is given a certain grace period, and those who come forth are reviewed and settled.

Working with a lawyer or estate planner is helpful at this point because they know the kinds of debts most properties have. Real estate taxes also have to be fully settled before the court can grant one the go-ahead to distribute the assets.

The best time to deal with debts and taxes is at the beginning of the probate process so that the process can be short and run smoothly.

When a beneficiary dies before receiving their inheritance, the assets will still stay under their estate. This means that the property has to go through another round of probate but under the beneficiary’s estate and not the original owner.

For example, if a father dies, leaving an estate to the son, and the son dies a few months after the father, then the property is under the son’s ownership. It will have to do through a grant of probate under the son’s estate, as then it will need to be passed on to a new beneficiary.

On the contrary, if the beneficiary dies before the property owner, they do not have any rights to the probate property when the main owner dies.

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