Probate and Estate Administration Legal Information

If you are the executor of an estate, you face substantial legal and financial responsibilities. You must open the estate, collect and inventory assets, collect debts owed to the estate, distribute assets to the beneficiaries, and close the estate. Any mistake in performing any of these steps may not only delay the probate procedure, but also could cause legal problems for you. If you are an executor, contact an attorney experienced in probate and estate administration to help you navigate the probate process.

Going without a will or trust is not a wise decision. You may think you don't have sufficient assets to put together an estate plan. At the Schwartz Law Firm in Farmington Hills, Michigan, our attorneys help clients at all income levels create wills and trusts to ensure protection of their financial interests.

We bring comprehensive experience, meticulous attention to all the details, and an extensive knowledge of the law to our practice of estate administration and probate. We will provide you with the resources you need to give you peace of mind. Listed below are additional resources on probate and estate planning law.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Probate and Estate Administration

Q: What is probate?

A: In general, probate is the court procedure by which a will's validity is proved, assets collected, creditors paid and the remaining assets distributed to beneficiaries under the will.

Q: What is a will contest?

A: A will contest is a legal action that challenges the validity of a will and/or the terms of the will. Will contests typically involve allegations that a will was inadequately executed, invalidated by a later will or was the result of forgery or undue influence.

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Probate and Estate Administration - An Overview

Estate administration refers to the process of probating the estate of a decedent, which generally includes collecting, inventorying and appraising assets; paying and collecting debts; filing and paying estate taxes; and distributing any remaining assets to beneficiaries. An experienced probate and estate administration attorney from Schwartz Law Firm in Farmington Hills, Michigan, can help simplify this complicated process. If you need help in the administration of an estate, call Schwartz Law Firm today.

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The Probate Process

Probate is the court process used to determine the validity of a will and oversee the payment of creditors and distribution of estate assets. Even if there is no valid will at the time of death, the estate will still go through the probate procedure. Since probate is regulated by state laws, there are specific procedures prescribed by each state for carrying out the process.

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Role of the Executor

An executor is the person named by the creator of the will (the testator) to carry out the terms and provisions of the will. In addition to locating important documents and notifying Social Security, pension providers, annuity providers and other entities of the death, the executor has numerous other legal responsibilities.

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Avoiding Probate

Assets disposed of outside the probate process are part of the non-probate estate. Because a probate proceeding is not required, these assets are distributed more quickly to the appropriate beneficiaries. Many people seek out these assets and ownership models to save their loved ones from the difficulties associated with going through probate.

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Will Contests

The fact that a person leaves a will does not guarantee that her or his property will be distributed according to the will's terms. A court generally must provide an opportunity to allow others to object to the will, and a legal challenge, called a will contest, may be brought by anyone with an interest in the will who believes it is invalid.

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Probate and Estate Administration Resource Links

Uniform Probate Code Locator
Maintained by Cornell University Law School, this site identifies the states that have adopted, at least in part, the Uniform Probate Code. Links are also provided to each state's version of the code.

Executors
This page is maintained by the H.E.L.P. organization, and provides an overview of the executor's, personal representatives', and trustee's estate administration responsibilities.

SmartMoney® Estate Planning
Provides information to consumers on the process of gathering information and documentation for estate planning.

How to Calculate Your Estate Tax
An online estate tax calculator.

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