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The Probate Process
Navigating the probate process can be both stressful and confusing. You’ve just lost a loved one and the last thing you want to worry about is legal documents & hiring a probate attorney. In general, probate includes the processes involved with determining what happens to the assets and belongings of your loved one. This could include transferring them to beneficiaries, heirs, or someone else, depending on the estate documents in place. Because the court has the authority to authorize these transfers, it becomes a time-consuming and confusing legal undertaking.
Luckily, there are some situations where the probate process can be avoided. If the deceased’s assets have beneficiaries or are transferable or payable on death, then they can be transferred to the named recipients with minimal paperwork. Additionally, if the deceased has a properly funded Trust, the successor Trustee can simply distribute the assets to those named in the Trust.
If you are not dealing with one of the situations above and need to take on the probate process, here are some important things to know as you get started.
Initially, you will want to gather all of the important documents needed for the probate process. This includes:
- Assets and debts
- An original death certificate
- An original Will (if they have one)
If a Will is available, it will name an executor and they will need to apply to be the administrator. If no Will is available, someone must apply to administer the estate. In either case, there are notices and documents that must be filed with the court before the court then appoints a person to administer or gather and distribute, the assets of the deceased.
After they are appointed, the executor/administrator is responsible for accounting for all of the assets of the deceased in an official Inventory as well as who each asset was distributed to. They also must provide a Final Account. Each step must be filed with the probate court and receive an order approving the transfer.
Role of the Executor
An executor is named if the deceased left a Will indicating they wanted that person to handle the probate process on their behalf. If an executor is named, they generally have more authority than an administrator to act without a court order. An executor is usually able to sell real estate without a court order and serve as executor without posting a Bond. A Bond is meant to protect beneficiaries of the deceased from theft or mishandling of assets.
Role of the Administrator
If a Will is not in place when the deceased passes away, an administrator is appointed by the court in place of a named executor. Administrators require more oversight by the court than executors. Administrators always have to post a Bond when distributing assets and must receive a court order for any actions that involve disposal of the deceased assets. This often means that the probate process takes much longer in the case that the deceased does not have a will and an administrator must act on their behalf.
Once an estate plan is in place, our probate attorney can help with administration upon execution of the estate. This can be a difficult time for anyone, and we are there to guide administrators, executors, and trustees as they navigate the estate and trust administration process. We will be by your side to help you prepare accounts, manage the transfer of assets, disburse funds to beneficiaries, represent you in probate litigation, and more.
Probate Support & Litigation
In the event that a deceased loved one does not have an estate in place or it is being disputed, our probate attorney will represent you in probate litigation to ensure your best interests. Even if a will or trust is in place, disputes among family members or beneficiaries can easily arise, so it can be helpful to have a knowledgeable attorney by your side throughout the estate administration and possible probate litigation process. We can also help if you are currently handling the execution of a will or trust and need support or have been accused of mishandling. We are experienced in a wide range of probate litigation, including will/trust disputes, administrator appointments, taxation challenges, and more.
Probate Attorney in Mentor, OH
Due to the complexity and many pitfalls of the probate process, we recommend enlisting an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to support you along the way. Heather Moseman has been working as a probate attorney in Mentor, OH, with over 19 years of combined experience in estate planning and the probate process. Our team is here for you during this difficult time and will be by your side every step of the way to answer your questions and make sure no details are missed. Contact Moseman Law Office today to get the process started.