How Does the Probate Process Work?

Elder Law Trussville, AL: Probate Process and Seniors
Elder Law Trussville, AL: Probate Process and Seniors

Probate is the process in which a will is proven valid and an estate is distributed accordingly. Within the will, a person is chosen to serve as the administrator, aka the executor. The executor has an important job and may face disputes along the way. 

The executor of a will settles the estate by paying taxes, pay off any remaining debt, and distribute the money or items listed in the will to the appropriate people. Beneficiaries may dispute what they’re receiving versus what they thought they were receiving.  

If the will is valid, it’s less of a hassle. Not everyone has a will in place when they pass away, however. That can make things a little more difficult. Either way, there are steps to follow. 

Petition the Court and Let Parties and Creditors Know 

Petitioning the court is the first step in distributing assets and items. A petition is filed to prove that the will is valid. Once that is done, the court appoints the executor to his or her role. The executor is then free to send out notices to creditors to get pay-off amounts. 

Once debts are settled, the remaining value of the estate is split according to the terms in the will. The executor will let beneficiaries know. Hopefully, no one will contest the will, but that’s not a guarantee. If someone has a different copy of a will, it will go back to a judge for guidance. 

Distribute the Assets 

Once all creditors are paid and everyone agrees with the terms in the will or the judge’s final decision, assets are split accordingly. Money that is left for children who are not yet of legal age goes into a trust. The court may need to name a trustee to manage that trust and ensure the funds are managed until the child reaches legal age or the age named in the will.  

Once all debt is paid and the estate is distributed, the estate is closed. A petition to end probate is the final step. As this can be a complex, time-consuming process, an executor is often allowed to claim a fee for his or her time. It often comes down to state laws and what the terms in the will say. 

Talk to a Lawyer Experienced in Probate Law 

It’s important to talk to an attorney who is experienced in probate law. Have a will draw up and on file to avoid disputes. That avoids intestate cases where the state decides how an estate is distributed.  

If you’re an executor, an elder law attorney is there to help you understand your role, get the required documents in place to carry out the distribution of assets, and make sure you do everything in accordance with the law. 

If you or a loved need assistance with Elder Care in Trussville, AL contact Nolan Elder Law & Estate Planning today. (205) 390-0101