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When a person passes away, his or her estate must go through probate. This process is essential to ensure that the decedent’s final wishes are executed, and to lessen the possibility of conflict among their heirs in the future.
Handling an estate after a person’s death can be both complicated and sensitive. The attorneys at Shea Kohl Law are experienced in probate law. Call us at (636) 946-9999 for more information about how we can help.
What is Probate?
When someone dies, their will needs to be officially proved through a legal process overseen by a probate court. The term “probate” refers to the judicial process of certifying the validity of a will and granting the executors the authority to administer the estate.
Governed by state law, the probate process generally involves bringing together the decedent’s assets, paying off liabilities, paying the required taxes, and dividing property to heirs. Probate laws vary from state-to-state.
Whether the deceased left a will or has passed away without making one, all wills must undergo the probate process. If the deceased leaves a will with instructions on how their estate will be distributed, the probate court must establish if it should go through the probate process and be given legal effect.
If a person passes away without making a will (intestate), a court-appointed personal representative will distribute the decedent’s estate per the laws of Descent and Distribution.
These laws pertain to the transfer of real property, and the rights and liabilities of heirs and distributees who have a share of the estate.
The Importance of Probating a Will
Unless stated by law, a will must be admitted to probate before a court allows the distribution of a deceased’s estate in line with its terms. In general, a will must be probated right away to have legal effect and nobody has the right to prevent this process.
Normally, the will must be produced by the appointed executor or the attorney of the deceased. Destroying, concealing, or failing to produce a will within a specified time carries penalties imposed by the law.
Estate planning is important for the decedent’s property to be distributed as intended. Planning an estate with an attorney provides favorable conditions that can help keep as much of their heirs’ inheritance as possible. This may sound overwhelming, but a probate attorney can help.
It’s normal for people to feel a little bit uneasy about the probate process, especially because this is typically an emotional and devastating time for grieving families.
A competent probate attorney can help people through the process by taking the administrative burden off their hands.
The Role of an Executor or Personal Representative
When a person passes away, they usually leave behind a will designating someone to assume the role of estate executor, also referred to as a personal representative. Executors are assigned to resolve matters concerning the estate, safeguard assets, and make sure the inheritance is distributed to heirs.
Since the role is critical, the person being appointed as executor can decline if they won’t be able to take on the part. If this happens, an alternate person specified in the will (if one is made) can act as executor, otherwise, the court may assign a new one.
For the more complex cases, executors may seek the counsel of an attorney, particularly when managing probate.
Shea Kohl Law Estate Probate Attorneys
Our firm has many years of experience in estate law and probate administration to ease the stress of the bereaved family. As probate attorneys, we help the executor fulfill their duties in resolving probate matters through probate court.
We can assist in:
- Will validation
- Preparing probate documents
- Management of assets, debts and liabilities
- Navigating tax laws
- Dispute mediation
- Property distribution
Contact Shea Kohl Law Today
If you need assistance with an estate, trust our law firm for probate services.
Call Shea Kohl Law today at (636) 946-9999 for your legal representation, or use this online contact form.
Call Shea Kohl Law, LC at (636) 946-9999
or contact us online to schedule your initial consultation.
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Shea Kohl Law, LC serves clients in Missouri including St. Charles, Troy and Lincoln and throughout Warren and St. Louis counties. We also serve clients in Illinois.