Sure, the typical probate lawyer in Chatham County might like a surprise birthday party or an unexpected bit of good news but, when it comes to probate, the fewer surprises – the better. One of the main purposes of estate planning, after all, is to detail how an individual would like for things to proceed after his or her death.
Probate is the process an estate goes through in order for it to be divided up and distributed properly. The first goal of the Chatham County probate lawyer is to make sure that the estate is administered according to the wishes of the deceased. These wishes are usually made clear in a will or through a trust. Additionally, however, the probate process is important in that it makes sure that the wishes outlined in the will meet legal standards.
While probate lawyers in Chatham County will encourage their clients to discuss the provisions of their will or trust with those affected by it, there are plenty of unfortunate circumstances that keep people from doing so. Often, this is where the probate lawyer will see the biggest surprises. For example, a spouse or adult child may be shocked to learn that they have inherited far less than they expected, or even been cut out of the will entirely.
There have even been cases where an entire family was surprised to discover that their loved one has chosen to leave some or all of the estate to a third party, such as a charitable cause. When this happens, the probate lawyer may help the family attempt to contest the will, but the ultimate decision on the distribution of assets will be up to the courts.
As you can imagine, when surprises like this come up, it’s uncomfortable for all involved. Different parties may choose to hire their own lawyers, and the situation can end up pitting formerly loving family members against one another. It’s not something that Chatham County probate lawyers look forward to.
While the probate lawyer is aware of how long the process can take, the time frame often comes as a big surprise for clients. A good attorney will help to guide everything through probate as quickly and smoothly as possible but it can still take from several months up to years, depending on what other “surprises” make themselves known along the way.