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When a person dies, his or her estate goes into probate, which is the legal process of administering one’s estate. In other words, it is the process of identifying the decedent’s property and assets and distributing them to the person’s heirs. Depending on the size of the estate and whether the person died testate (with a will) or intestate (without a will), the process can be quite arduous and confusing.
Probate involves a lot of paperwork, meeting deadlines, receiving claims from creditors, and locating and valuing assets such as real estate, personal property, life insurance policies, and bank accounts. Sometimes, it can also mean locating unknown or estranged heirs living outside of the United States.
The probate process begins with the filing of a petition in probate court in the jurisdiction in which the deceased was residing at the time of his death. If a will is involved, the will is admitted to probate and an executor is appointed. If there is no will, an administrator for the estate is appointed. The appointee must then notify all heirs and all known creditors of the estate, and take inventory of the estate’s assets. After all debts, expenses and taxes are paid, legal title in the estate’s property is transferred to the heirs, and a final accounting is prepared.
In addition to the probate process, sometimes beneficiaries will dispute particular gifts or provisions in a will. Litigation over a will is exceptionally difficult on an emotional level and it is very beneficial to have an advocate represent you in that process.
If you are seeking assistance with the probate of a loved one’s estate, please contact the attorneys at The Simms Firm, PLC. We can take the appropriate actions to ensure that the probate process is conducted promptly and properly.