Probate & Trust Administration

The probate process is the process in which an estate is administered after death. Not every estate must go through the probate process; in fact, with proper estate planning prior to death many times the probate process can be avoided. If an estate must go through probate, the will is filed with the Probate Court, and a Personal Representative is appointed by the Court. The Personal Representative has the responsibility of carrying out the wishes of the decedent, making sure all debts are paid, and ultimately distributing estate assets as directed by the will. During this process, there are multiple court imposed requirements and time deadlines that must be met, which our attorneys will assist with.

Administering a Trust does not generally involve the probate court. After death, a successor Trustee, who is named in the Trust, steps in to identify the assets, pay any debts, and ultimately distribute the assets as directed by the Trust. This may involve holding assets for a period of time, even years, if the trust does not want assets distributed immediately (such as with minor children). The Trustee has a duty to account for all of the trust assets to the beneficiaries. If there are disputes regarding how a Trust is being administered, a beneficiary may petition the Probate court for oversight or direction.

Sometimes during probate or trust administration, unexpected issues can arise. For example, a family may be unable to locate the decedent’s will, or may have multiple wills and be unsure which will controls. In these instances, there may have to be significant investigation performed before an estate can even be opened to locate a will, or to locate assets or beneficiaries. Our skilled attorneys can help with this process.

Navigating the probate process or administering a trust does not have to be complicated. Our attorneys are well versed in the laws governing probate and trust administration, and will work to ensure that the estate or trust is administered in a timely, cost-effective manner. We will prepare the necessary court filings, provide instruction and assistance with inventorying the estate assets, ensure that all outstanding bills are paid or disallowed through the probate process, and provide direction as to the ultimate distribution of estate or trust assets. Proper estate or trust administration and communication with beneficiaries is essential to help prevent – or defend against – claims arising from estate or trust administration. Please contact our office to schedule an appointment to discuss the probate process and whether your love one’s estate require probate administration.

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