Having lost close family myself, I understand the emotions that can be experienced due to the loss of a loved. You are sad and want to grieve. Yet, at the same time you have to contact family, plan the funeral, arrange for food and are wondering what your next steps
should be. Our firm can help you lighten your burden so that you can focus on what is important…how to move on after your loss.
Probate is simply the legal process through the courts when a person passes away in order to appoint someone to settle the estate. The court proceedings are very similar regardless of whether the decedent had a Last Will and Testament or died without a Last Will and
Testament. It is the outcome of that procedure that varies, sometimes drastically.
It is possible to Probate an estate without the assistance of an attorney; there is no statute that requires an attorney. However, it can be a complicated process that involves several timely court filings and an adherence to strict procedures and deadlines. The Clerks are not permitted to explain the laws; they are limited to discussing the filing procedures only.
Whoever is handling the estate should understand that the title comes with considerable responsibilities and he or she can be held personally liable to the beneficiaries in certain situations if procedures are not followed properly. The probate process can be considered by some as complex and could be lengthy. Navigating through the system can be a daunting task without the guidance of an experienced attorney.
Words to be familiar with:
Intestate: Passing away without a Will
Testate: Passing away with a Will
Will: A document that directs the disposition of a person’s property after death
Decedent: A person who has passed away
Estate: A decedent’s total assets, both real and personal
Executor/Administrator/Fiduciary/Personal Representative: The person appointed to
settle the estate.
Letters Testamentary/Letters Administration: The Court document issued to a Personal Representative as authority to act for the Estate. These are not letters that start with “Dear Bank.” This is a one page document issued by the Clerk of Court that cannot be written by anyone else, including an attorney.
Heir: A person who inherits through the laws of intestacy when there is no Will
Beneficiary: A person who inherits through a written documents
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