Elite Lawyer

Probate Attorney Overview

Lawyer Assistance With Administration of a Deceased Person's Estate

When a person dies, there are a variety of legal issues that must be addressed as their survivors carry out their last wishes and settle their affairs. A person's last will and testament will be filed in probate court, and certain procedures must be followed as their property is distributed to their heirs.

During the probate process, an estate administration attorney can ensure that the correct procedures are followed and that all legal requirements are met. A skilled lawyer can provide representation in probate court and work to resolve any issues related to contested wills.

The Probate Process

Following a person's death, the person named as the executor of their estate will file their will in probate court. They will then take inventory of the estate's assets, file a tax return for the estate, pay any outstanding debts owed by the estate, and distribute the assets to the deceased person's beneficiaries.

Probate can be a lengthy, expensive process, and some people will want to do whatever they can to avoid probate or minimize its effects on an estate. In some cases, probate can be avoided by placing assets in a trust. Depending on state laws, some estates may be able to avoid probate if their total value falls under a certain threshold.

Contested Wills

One of the issues that may arise during probate is the validity of the deceased person's will. A person's heirs or creditors may contest a will after it has been filed in probate court, arguing that it is invalid. Reasons for contesting a will include:

  • Mental capacity - A person may argue that the deceased person did not have "testamentary capacity," meaning that they were not of sound mind when they executed their will or did not fully understand what they were signing.
  • Undue influence - A party may claim that someone exerted influence on the deceased person and convinced or coerced them to change the terms of their will in a way that went against their actual intent.
  • Fraud - A person may try to show that a will was altered after being signed by the deceased person or that some other form of forgery occurred.

During probate, it is important to work with an experienced attorney who understands the laws in the state where the deceased person resided. A probate lawyer can ensure that all legal requirements are met as the executor of the estate carries out their duties, and they can provide representation for those who wish to contest or defend a will.

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