The Probate Process

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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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.

If you are the executor of an estate, contact an experienced probate attorney at Schwartz Law Firm in Farmington Hills, Michigan to schedule a consultation with an experienced probate attorney who can help you identify and carry out your estate administration duties.

Probating the Estate

Despite the variation in state laws, probating the estate generally includes the following functions:

  • Petitioning the court to probate the will
  • Sending notice to creditors, beneficiaries and any other interested parties
  • Collecting, inventorying and appraising all estate assets
  • Collecting any payments, debts and income due to the estate
  • Paying any debts owed by the estate, including filing and paying local, state and federal taxes
  • Distributing any remaining assets to beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the will

Small Estates

Most states have a fast-track or simplified probate process for smaller estates that meet certain qualifications. Normally, this process allows probating the estate before a court administrator rather than the probate court which can cut down on the time and cost of probate.

Disadvantages of Probate

Time and expense: Probating an estate can be time-consuming, taking anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to complete. Contests to the validity of the will can increase the duration of the process. Probate also can be expensive, with any probate costs and fees coming out of the estate's funds.

Lack of privacy: Probate matters are part of the public record allowing anyone to find out the size, contents and beneficiaries of the estate. This lack of privacy can cause tension between family members.

Intestacy

If someone dies without a will or the probate court determines the will is invalid, that person is said to have died intestate. Each state has a set of default inheritance rules that apply in the absence of a will or other estate plan. These rules generally distribute property to the surviving spouse and children first followed by parents and other close family members. The only way to prevent the default rules from determining the distribution of assets is to have a valid will or trust in place before death.

Contact a Probate Attorney Today

An experienced probate and estate administration lawyer can help simplify the probate process for you. Contact Schwartz Law Firm in Farmington Hills, Michigan for more information and to schedule a consultation.

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