We Make the Process Easier – The mere mention of the word “probate” often prompts instant anxiety. As a crucial step after the death of a loved one, this legal procedure has gained a reputation as a complicated and drawn-out process. Despite this image as the boogeyman of estate planning, its basic definition is actually simple: the probate process examines the deceased’s will to determine if it is valid, pays creditors, and distributes assets to the beneficiaries according to the will, often all with the aid of a probate attorney.
However, each case can differ. Depending on the plans put in place by the deceased before death, probate can range from a simple formality to an extended legal battle. If you are planning your own estate or are dealing with the estate of a loved one, a skilled probate attorney can look at your situation and counsel you on the best course of action.
Do I Need a Probate Attorney?
Probate cases vary depending on the situation, and a legal professional can better understand the steps you need to take to make the process as smooth and fast as possible. A probate lawyer can help file your paperwork with the court, address potential problems, counsel you on how debts and taxes are to be paid, and aid in the distribution of the estate to descendants. In fact, an estate planning attorney can even be named executor of a will or trust, ensuring the assets are distributed correctly and according to the deceased’s express wishes.
Among the common problems encountered with probate is if there is no legal will. If your loved one died without leaving a last will and testament, this is considered dying intestate. When this happens, the estate will still go through probate, but the division of assets will be determined by state law.
The most crucial instance in which a probate lawyer is necessary is if a will is contested during the probate process. Because the first goal of probate is to prove that a will is legitimate and recognized by the court, a challenged will immediately stops the process until the problem can be resolved. If this happens, litigation may ensue to prove the correct document is the legitimate will. During this time, the deceased’s property will be tied up and unavailable, prolonging the period until an estate can be settled and distributed. A probate attorney who is familiar with Arizona’s probate laws can protect your interests and help ensure that your loved one’s wishes are fulfilled in a timely manner.
The loss of a loved one is already a trying time without having to deal with a complicated legal procedure. Having an experienced probate attorney by your side can give you peace of mind, and help get you through this final legal process during an already challenging period in your life.
Representation in a Variety of Estate Planning Matters
Because of the potential for problems to crop up during the process, many people choose to use a living trust to protect some assets from ever going through probate. However, there are nuances to how probate can be legally avoided, and an estate planning lawyer should be consulted to help you understand if establishing a living trust is right for you.
Most importantly, the hassles of probate can be avoided by preparing your estate in advance for your loved ones. By leaving a legitimate will and keeping your estate planning updated, you can save your family both money and stress when the time comes.
The probate attorneys at Bellah Perez would like to help you plan for the future and enable your loved ones to avoid some of the painful decisions associated with death and the distribution of decedents’ estates. Learn more about the other estate planning areas we practice:
- Creating Wills and Trusts
- Drafting Powers of Attorney
- Providing Representation in Conservatorships and Guardianships
- Drafting Beneficiary Deeds