When a loved one passes away, you may experience a number of emotions like grief and denial. However, you may also experience additional stress and confusion when you discover you are the executor of your loved one’s estate. This process can be challenging if you don’t know where to start. One of the proceedings you’ll need to go through is probate. If you’re unsure how to navigate probate court, you’ll want to keep reading. You’ll discover what the process entails and how Washtenaw County probate attorneys can help guide you through the process.
What Is Probate Court?
One of the first steps when executing an estate is to go through probate court. Probate court is the legal entity that oversees the distribution of a deceased person’s will. Every will must go through probate, assuming the assets were not jointly owned, to ensure the will is valid. However, if there is no will, meaning a person has died intestate, the court will appoint a representative to value and distribute the estate according to state laws.
What Happens During the Process?
During probate, the executor must submit a copy of the death certificate to the court, along with a copy of the person’s original will. This is important to ensure the will is valid. The court will then name and legally recognize the executor of the will. If no one is named, the court will typically choose the next of kin to carry out the process.
Probate consists traditionally of two different hearings. The first examines the validity, which allows the executor to begin distributing the estate. This includes paying debts, reaching out to beneficiaries, and filing taxes on the assets.
Once you complete these tasks, you will schedule a second hearing. This is often the final meeting, necessary to confirm that the estate has been fully settled. The court will close the estate, ending the probate process.
It is important to note that the length of the probate process varies from estate to estate. The timeline depends on how many other estates are in probate court, the size of the estate, whether or not the person had a will, and if there are any issues with their will, such as the validity.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you’re named the executor of an estate, navigating the process can be challenging. If you’re unfamiliar with the legal procedure involved, you may find yourself overwhelmed. This is especially true if the estate you’re distributing is particularly extensive or if the terms of the will are vague or unclear.
Ensuring you have the guidance of a lawyer is crucial to ensure you can finish the process and ease the stress associated with executing a will. If you have any doubts, reach out to Collis, Griffor & Hendra. We can help guide you through the probate process, allowing you more time to grieve the loss of your loved one.