If you've lost a loved one, chances are their estate needs to go through probate to be properly distributed to the heirs and to have title changed on any real property.
Many people who die with a will have named a relative to serve as the executor or personal representative. The person named as executor is usually a child or spouse or other person who was very close to the decedent. This results in the executor being one of those hardest hit with the emotional toll of the loss of a loved one. The executor, who is also going through the grieving process, must begin the journey through the probate system, as well as trying to make final arrangements. The person named as executor may have little or no experience with the legal system or administering a decedent’s estate.
A typical estate needs to go through the following steps being closed: obtaining and filing a bond, conducting an inventory of the estate, notifying creditors, identifying potential heirs or beneficiaries, filing appropriate tax forms, establishing a bank account for the estate, maintaining accurate records for the estate, and other requirements. If the executor does not follow the process, he or she could end up liable to the creditors and heirs of the estate. Luckily, most wills are drafted to allow an executor or personal representative to hire an attorney to help them with this process and pay the attorney’s fee from the assets of the estate. This allows the executor to avoid liability for mistakes made in the probate process, frees their mind from worry and saves them hours of time navigating the probate process.
If someone dies without a will, the process becomes even more complicated as someone will have to apply for letters of administration before going through the other steps mentioned above. If you’ve lost a loved one and need help with the probate process, call me at 205-623-2930