When a loved one passes away, it is a sad experience that can cause emotional time in our lives. Dealing with estate administration can be difficult to handle during these times. The stress of planning legal and financial issues may be something you cannot bear. With different ways of planning one’s estate, loved ones can be comforted to know they do not have to decide the outcome of the deceased’s possessions. The probate process proves the validity of legal documents regarding estate administration.
What does a will do?
A will is a legal document that ensures a person’s wishes regarding their estate after they die. Probate proves the legality of the will and allows the court to distribute the assets described. Before the deceased passes, they will have assigned someone as an executor of their estate. This person is in charge of ensuring that the proper possessions are given to the right people. As an executor, they will have substantial responsibilities.
What’s the difference between testate and intestate?
Testate means that a person dies with a valid will. The will has gotten the proper documentation and the Surrogate Court will oversee the probate of the will. Since the will has gone through the proper probate process, it proves the validity of the will and is a formal legal document.
If the will is contested, it may be sent to the Superior Court. When an individual dies without a will, it means they died intestate. A representative may be appointed by the state to oversee the administration of the estate. This person may be the closest living relative. Certain family members, such as a living spouse or children, may be entitled to the estate.
When do I start the probate process?
Probate may not begin until 11 days after the death of the individual. The original will and death certificate may be filed at this time. It should be filed with the Surrogate Court in the county where the deceased lived at the time of death. The filing of the papers may be done by the executor of the will, any heirs, spouses, creditors or anyone else with a property right or claim against the estate.
The executor is the representative that has the legal responsibility to take care of the deceased person’s remaining financial obligations. They may be named in the will specifically or appointed by the court. Some of their responsibilities include providing the accounting to the court, paying outstanding debts and taxes and collecting, protecting and distributing assets according to the will’s specification. If you have been assigned as an executor, it is a serious task to take on.
During times of death, it may be hard to focus and think clearly. As legal professionals, we can help provide a clear state of mind to ensure everything is done properly throughout the process.
Stone Crosby, P.C. has proudly served clients in Alabama for over 100 years. Our firm has experience handling matters including divorce and family law, estate planning and administration, business law, employment law, class actions, consumer protection, business law, real estate law, among many others. If you require quality legal representation, contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.