The Vital Importance of a Probate Lawyer During Probate Proceedings
The legal process undergone after someone passes away is referred to as probate. There are a number of steps that take place during the probate process. A probate lawyer engages in several ways to assist his or her client during the probate process. Probably the most common way in which probate lawyers assist their clients during probate court proceedings is ensuring that the will is faithfully executed. This is a drop in the ocean of probate when it comes to the legal matters in which probate lawyers assist their clients.
What Probate Lawyers do in the Probate Process
One of the first things that occurs during the probate process is the issue of proving that the person is deceased. This is generally a routine matter which is addressed by recording the death certificate of the deceased person. Once it has been established that the individual is deceased, the will of that individual is provided to the probate court. Once in probate court, it must be determined whether or not the will is in fact valid. Generally, determining the validity of a will can be a relatively quick and easy process, yet on occasion various disputes arise as to the validity of a will.
The Validity of a Will
Sometimes issues arise as to whether or not the will is valid. The validity of a will can be contested. On occasion, a will is disputed for various reasons. Beneficiaries of the will may be in disagreement about to whom what property should be distributed. Whether or not the creator of the will was of sound mind and body at the time of the writing of the will may be contested as well. Sometimes the creator of a will might have multiple wills that have been written over time, so it is the duty of a probate lawyer to help determine which will is the most recent and accurate. Most often the question of whether the creator of the will was of sound mind and body at the time of the writing of the will is contested by beneficiaries.
Beneficiaries may also dispute a will when it appears that the will may have been written at a time when the creator was in poor health or of questionable mental capacity. To determine whether or not the creator of the will was of sound mind and not under any undue influence or duress, the probate court will undertake further legal proceedings which investigate any possible foul play. Although probate proceedings may be made lengthy by various reasons, a contested will is the most common reason for a drawn out Probate process.
Duties of the Executor of the Estate
Once it has been decided by the Probate Court that the will is valid, relatives and creditors will be notified of the person’s death. During the entire probate process, from the time of the death until all the affairs of the deceased’s estate are settled, the executor has a duty to keep, manage, and protect any assets. This is one of the many duties that a person must fulfill as role of the executor of a will. Assets may be actual personal property such as jewelry or paintings, or it can include real property such as a house. Real property also refers to the land on which a house may be located. Other types of personal property that an executor has a duty to protect prior to distribution include intangible property such as stocks.
Once the will is deemed valid, the distribution of the deceased’s assets will begin by the executor. However, the executor must also satisfy any creditors that the individual may have owed. In order to satisfy any of these debts, the executor has the power to sell the deceased’s property. This includes the personal property, both tangible and intangible, as well as real property. After the debts have been satisfied, the final requests as stated in the will would be addressed. It is at this time that the remaining property is generally distributed to relatives and others.
The Probate process should be relatively straightforward; however there can be unforeseen circumstances or facts that come to light during the Probate process. At Bret Jones, P.A., our Probate lawyers are rigorous and believe in stewardship at the utmost level for our clients. Our law firm has a no-nonsense approach to informing our clients on each of their options, including a thorough description on all the possible outcomes of their situation. We want our clients to be apprised of all their choices in order for them to make the decision that is in their best interests.
When Should I Hire a Probate Lawyer?
A probate lawyer is of vital importance for multiple reasons. If you are named executor of a will you may need assistance in ensuring that you are correctly following the legal requirements as executor of the deceased’s estate. Perhaps you are the beneficiary of a will, and you have serious concerns about the execution of the will. Whatever legal purpose or concern you may have regarding a will, none are considered too small or not reason enough to consult a probate lawyer. If you have concerns regarding the writing of the will, and you are unsure as to whether or not the creator was unduly influenced or under duress at the time of writing, a probate lawyer is the ideal person to consult regarding your rights contesting the will.
You may choose to dispute a will, but need to consult with a probate lawyer to see if you have legal grounds to contest the will. Each state in our nation has a particular code regarding Probate, and Florida is no exception. The legal expertise of the probate lawyers at Bret Jones, P.A., combined with our willingness to put the concerns and needs of our clients first is one of the many reasons you should choose our firm for your representation.
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