Probate Law

Probate is, simply put, the legal process that determines how assets and property are divided after someone dies. In cases where someone has made a good effort at estate planning or provided a will, probate is a fairly simple affair. If, however, the will is contested or there is no will or estate planning, probate can be a complex and complicated process that can even be an expensive proposition.

So what happens during probate? How does it work? Let's take a look.

Authenticating a Last Will & Testament

If the deceased has put forth a good effort at estate planning, this can be a simple process. Usually the person who has the will has to file it with a probate court as soon as possible. After that, a judge will confirm that the will is valid, usually during a court hearing. During the hearing, the possibility of objection to the current will may arise; maybe there's an issue with how it's written or because a more recent will could be provided.

Choosing an Estate Executor

The judge then chooses someone to administer the estate. They basically oversee the probate process. In the event that a will is present, it will usually nominate the executor. Note that the individual may decline the responsibility and cause the court to choose someone else.  If there is no will, usually a family member will petition the court to be appointed as the administrator.

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Determining All Assets

The next step in the probate process is making a total of all the deceased's assets, both inside and outside of the estate. In addition, any creditors that the deceased has outstanding debts with may be able to make a claim on the assets or estate of the deceased. Once this is done, the executor will usually determine if it is valid and pay the required amounts.  The executor will also usually file final tax returns.

Identifying Heirs and Other Relatives

The probate court and executor then seek out all possible heirs and other concerned parties, both those listed by the will and those who have not been included.

Distributing the Assets

At this point, the final step is to distribute the assets and the estate of the deceased among the relevant parties. In cases where there is no will and the probate process is administered entirely by the court, this can be a time-consuming and very public process.

Pros and Cons

Many people try to avoid the probate process because of the amount of time it takes. In addition, probate court records are a matter of public record; people with concerns about privacy may take issue with this. But in some cases, probate can be a good thing, especially if there’s any kind of contest in regards to the division or assets.

What should you do during probate?

If you’re worried about the fair and equitable division of assets, you need to talk to an experienced attorney who knows quite a bit about probate and estate planning. Call me today to learn more about the probate process and how you may be able to avoid it or make it as painless as possible.

Bowling Green, Kentucky Probate Attorney

If you’re worried or intimidated by the probate process, you shouldn’t be. It’s a fairly common way of dividing assets after someone dies. That said, it can be a complex and time-consuming set of events. Like all legal matters, it makes sense to have an advocate in your corner. Call me today to learn how I can help you through the probate process with the minimum amount of headache.