Probate law varies from state to state, but there are several things that you and your Savannah probate lawyer can expect to happen during the process. The following is a simple breakdown of some of the most common aspects of probate law.
First of all, probate is the name of the legal process that takes place to distribute a person’s estate once he or she has passed away. With some exceptions, such as trusts, life insurance payments, and few other things, all of a person’s assets must go through this process in order to ensure they are being distributed legally. An “estate” isn’t just a term used for rich people. The majority of the assets left behind—houses, vehicles, money, personal property, etc. are all considered part of the estate.
Once an individual passes away, someone will be named as the executor of the estate. If the deceased had a will, he or she will likely have chosen the person they want to fulfill that role. If not, however, the courts will decide who should have the position. This person will work closely with the probate lawyer throughout the process. It is a big responsibility but is also considered a privilege.
Again, if there was a will, then one of the first steps the executor and the Savannah probate lawyer will do is to prove that the will is valid. They will then compile a list of assets, debts, and heirs to be presented to the courts. The executor and probate lawyer are also charged with alerting creditors and family members of the death.
Because the probate process can take a considerable amount of time, it is also the executor’s job to manage the assets of the estate throughout the legal proceedings. Many people in Chatham County find that this job is much easier under the guidance of the probate lawyer, as the attorney will likely have far more experience than the executor.
Based on debts and assets, the executor will have to determine whether or not assets will need to be sold to pay for outstanding debts, including taxes. This may also require the executor to have various assets appraised for value. If there is a will that bequests money to heirs that is currently tied up in investments, then the probate lawyer will also help the executor sell those assets to meet the terms of the will.
A good Savannah probate lawyer will be able to guide the executor when it comes to how to manage, sell, and distribute assets according to the findings of the courts. Once all the property has been distributed, the executor and probate lawyer will follow up to make sure the estate is “closed.”