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Probate & Trust Administration

What the heck is Probate anyway?

The easiest way to understand probate is to understand its purpose. The purpose of probate is to make sure the instructions in your Will are enforced and to protect creditors and heirs. That’s it.

The word probate comes from the Latin word for “prove”. The probate process is about proving the decedent died, that they had a will (or did not have a will) that the Will is valid, everyone was notified, all debts were paid and that the correct distributions were made.

Probate may be avoided with a good estate plan set up ahead of time. There is a plethora of things to take care of after the loss of a loved one. For many, the court process can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially during a time of mourning. It can be made worse by pressure from family to get “my money” as soon as possible.

Not only can we help with the legal questions and procedures, but we’re also here as a sounding board and as a shoulder to lean on in a difficult time. The office dog, Mr. Bentley has a special sense of when people are upset and need some puppy therapy.

We can act as an intermediary between you and your family. We’re available to help with the probate process. We only work on uncontested probate cases however, so if any other party has hired an attorney, you will need an attorney that does probate litigation.

What is the probate process?

Probates are all a little different but generally an uncontested probate looks something like this:

  1. Meet with attorney, determine the scale of the work and fee.
  2. Answer a bunch of questions the attorney needs to start the court filings.
  3. Attorney drafts court documents.
  4. Review documents and sign them
  5. Attorney files signed documents with the court.
  6. Court accepts the filing and assigns a case number.
  7. Attorney or assistant physically takes Will to Courthouse and “lodges” it.
  8. Court appoints Personal Representative (what we used to call “executor.”)
  9. Court issues “Letters” which give the Personal Representative (PR) the ability to act on behalf of the estate.
  10. Attorney obtains EIN for the estate.
  11. PR can then open a bank account in the estate’s name to deposit checks into and use for expenses.
  12. Attorney notifies creditors by publishing the notice in the local newspaper where the decedent lived.
  13. Attorney mails out and files “Information of appointment” to inform interested persons that a PR has been appointed.
  14. PR pays all outstanding bills, including taxes and distributes the estate with help and guidance from attorney.
  15. When all the assets have been distributed and the creditor period has expired, the PR signs paperwork to that effect and the attorney files it, closing probate.

As you can see, the probate process is complicated and takes time. Probate is measured in weeks and months, not days. The value of an experienced probate attorney is hard to overestimate. Call us at (719) 465-4324 to get some help.

What the heck is Probate anyway?