When someone close to you dies it can be a traumatic experience, but it is extremely important to act immediately and contact an attorney. A lawyer who concentrates in probate and estate administration can advise you on how to protect assets from damage, loss, and theft. Unfortunately, assets are often stolen by friends, family members or strangers immediately following a person’s death. Basically, more things often go wrong when you do not act quickly.
Probate is the court process that is usually required when someone dies if he or she owned more than $100,000 and/or owned any real estate. If the deceased individual had a valid will it must be filed with the appropriate court. An individual (executor or administrator) is usually appointed by the court to be responsible for gathering the deceased individual’s possessions and outstanding liabilities. This process exists to ensure that creditors of the estate are paid and the beneficiaries of the estate receive the money, real estate and other assets.
If the deceased individual had a properly funded trust and/or all assets listed named beneficiaries, it may be possible to avoid probate. While estate administration is often a more streamlined process than probate, creditors of the estate are required to be paid, the title to real estate should be transferred, insurance policies need to be updated and final tax returns must be filed. It is extremely important that an estate is managed correctly so everyone is aware of his or her rights and responsibilities. A lawyer who is experienced in estate administration and probate can efficiently guide family and friends through this process.