Your Local Danville Estate Planning Attorney Can Help
Probate is designed to create a “final accounting” upon death. It is the legal process of verifying that a Will is valid, and takes place in one of two instances. First, if a person dies leaving behind a will, or second, if the deceased has died “intestate”, or without a will or estate plan of any type or the Will cannot be found.
The probate process can be broken into the following steps:
- Validation of the Will
- Appointment of executor
- Full inventory of the estate
- Payment of claims against the estate
- Payment of estate taxes
- Distribution of remaining assets
Each step will require legal documentation, validation, and proper accounting.
Unfortunately, probate happens while you mourn the loss of a family member which can prove both financially and emotionally taxing. The following are some issues which can cause significant stress, if not properly dealt with, can result in protracted and expensive litigation:
- If a decedent passes with significant debts to creditors.
- If a decedent dies “intestate” or without a will, leaving the Probate Court to apportion their estate.
- When conflicting wills or final wishes exist, or other disputes involving the passing of a decedent’s property arise.
- If pre-existing family disputes are magnified due to the death a decedent and the subsequent distribution of their estate.
The primary difference between a trust administration and probate is that probate is court supervised and the court must approve many of the acts of the executor. As such, probate typically takes longer than a trust administration. However, there is still a considerable amount of work to be done in properly administering even a simple living trust. The services of a trust and probate attorney are required. It is important to remember that the fees allowed for trust administration are usually much lower than those for probate, and there is generally less work involved since there is less involvement of the courts and state bureaucracy.
The trust administration process can be broken into the following steps:
- Full inventory of assets
- Determination of estate tax
- Division of trust assets
- Federal and State tax forms filings
- Distributions to beneficiaries
Although the trust administration process seems relatively straightforward, there are several reasons it can sometimes be drawn out over several months or even years:
- Decedent dies with a trust established, but the beneficiaries of the trust are dissatisfied with its terms.
- The inventory of assets, which must be completed before the trust administration can begin, can be difficult to complete depending upon the prior organization and the size and complexity of the decedent’s assets.
- Decedent failed to properly fund his or her trust prior to death. The result may be subject to the probate process.
Contact Us for Probate and Trust Legal Advisement and Settlement Issues
If you are the executor of a will, or the trustee of a trust, we welcome the opportunity to assist you. We can effectively guide you and your family through the trust administration or probate process. Our legal team specializes in the administration and settlements of trusts and will work closely and compassionately to make sure you receive the best legal advice. To make an appointment, please contact our Danville office at 925-905-9050.