When you lose a loved one, the last thing you want to deal with is the legalities of their estate. This is where a probate lawyer can help. Probate lawyers have experience in the process of administering a deceased person’s estate. They can help you file the necessary paperwork, resolve any debts or disputes, and distribute assets according to the will or state law.
The probate process can be complicated and time-consuming, but with the help of a probate lawyer, it doesn’t have to be. If you’re looking for an experienced and compassionate probate lawyer in Worcester, look no further than the Law Office of Polly Tatum. Attorney Polly Tatum has over 24 years of experience helping families through the probate process. She will work with you to ensure that the process is as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Contact the Law Office of Polly Tatum today to schedule a consultation. We’ll help you through this difficult time and make sure that your loved one’s estate is handled properly. Our phone number is (774) 366-3688; give us a call for help.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the legal process of settling an estate. This usually happens after someone dies. The probate court appoints a personal representative to oversee the process. This person is responsible for gathering the deceased person’s assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries.
The probate process can be complicated and time-consuming. A probate lawyer can help make it easier. Here are four ways a Worcester probate lawyer can help:
Simplify The Process
Probate can be confusing, especially if you’re going through it for the first time. A lawyer can explain what’s happening at each step and answer any questions you have. A probate lawyer will make sure all the paperwork is filed correctly and on time. This can help avoid delays in the process.
Some assets, like a house or a business, can be difficult to deal with during probate. A lawyer can help you figure out the best way to handle these types of assets. If there are disagreements among beneficiaries or creditors, a lawyer can help resolve them. This can help keep the process moving forward. If you’re dealing with the death of a loved one, contact the Law Office of Polly Tatum for help with probate. We’ll make sure everything is done properly and efficiently so you can focus on grieving.
One of the first steps in probate is gathering the deceased person’s assets. This includes things like bank accounts, investments, real estate, and personal property. A lawyer can help you locate all the assets and determine their value. This is important because the estate will have to pay debts and taxes from these assets.
If there are missing assets or disputes over who should get them, a lawyer can help resolve the issue. For example, if someone dies without a will, a lawyer can help figure out how to distribute the assets according to state law.
A lawyer can also help if there are problems with asset titles or deeds. For example, if the deed to a house is in someone else’s name, a lawyer can help get it transferred to the estate. This is important because the estate will need to sell the property to pay debts and taxes.
After debts and taxes are paid, the remaining assets will be distributed to beneficiaries. A lawyer can help make sure this is done according to the will or state law. If there is no will, a lawyer can help determine who should inherit the assets. This can be a difficult decision, but a lawyer can help make it easier.
Some assets may need to be sold to pay debts or taxes. A lawyer can help you figure out the best way to sell these assets. They can also help you negotiate with creditors. This can help make sure you get the most money from the sale of these assets.
Paying Debts & Taxes
One of the responsibilities of the personal representative is to pay the deceased person’s debts and taxes. A lawyer can help you figure out which debts need to be paid and how to pay them. They can also help you negotiate with creditors. If there are unpaid debts, a lawyer can help you determine what to do next.
The personal representative is also responsible for paying taxes on the estate. A lawyer can help you file the necessary paperwork and make sure all deadlines are met. They can also help you minimize the amount of taxes owed on the estate.
What Happens During Probate?
Probate is the legal process to settle the estate of a deceased loved one. The process typically includes transferring their assets and paying debts and taxes after their passing. It aims to ensure the beneficiaries receive the assets according to the decedent’s will or following the intestacy laws if there is no will.
The process may also include paying any outstanding debts and taxes the deceased person’s estate owes. It also involves court supervision to ensure they carry out the process correctly and fairly. The following is the general flow of the probate process.
Authenticate The Will
The first step is to determine the validity of the deceased person’s will. It verifies that the document is their last will and testament and meets the jurisdiction’s legal requirements. The amount of time it takes to do this depends on many factors. These include the will’s clarity, the estate’s size, and the number of beneficiaries.
Appoint An Executor Or Administrator
An executor is someone named in a will to carry out the deceased person’s wishes and manage their estate after they pass away. They play a crucial role in legally validating the will and distributing the deceased person’s assets. The testator or the person creating the will can choose their executor.
It’s a crucial decision, as the executor must be trustworthy and capable of handling the responsibilities. If no executor is named in the will or if they are unable or unwilling to fulfill the role, the court will appoint an administrator. This administrator will perform the same duties as an executor but will be appointed by the court.
Settle Debts & Distribute Assets
After settling debts, taxes, and expenses, the remaining properties are given to the rightful beneficiaries named in the will. The court will apply intestacy laws in the jurisdiction if there is no will. These laws determine the order of priority for distributing assets among surviving family members.
Why Do You Need To Settle One’s Estate?
As mentioned earlier, this process occurs after a person passes away. It is vital to meet certain conditions, but these can vary by jurisdiction. Generally, it is necessary given the following circumstances.
- The deceased person had assets solely in their name. If the decedent owned property, bank accounts, or other assets solely in their name and did not have designated beneficiaries, these assets usually go through probate.
- No beneficiary designations. Assets without designated beneficiaries or joint owners often go through this process. For example, a bank account without a payable-on-death (POD) designation or a life insurance policy without a named beneficiary.
- There are disputes or complications. The process may be necessary when conflicts exist among heirs, creditors, or other interested parties. It may be regarding the distribution of assets or when the estate’s administration is complex.
- Real estate is involved. This can also happen when the deceased person owns real estate that is not jointly owned with someone else or held in a trust. The estate must undergo this process to transfer ownership to heirs or beneficiaries.
Strategies For Avoiding The Process
Bypassing the process is a common goal for many individuals. Some people take steps to avoid it by using strategies that can help expedite the transfer of assets after death and keep the process more private. Here’s how.
Create A Revocable Trust
A revocable trust is an estate planning tool that allows you to manage and control your assets during your lifetime. Additionally, it ensures a smooth and efficient transfer of those assets to your beneficiaries after your passing. A revocable trust works like this: you put your money or property into a trust you control while alive and can cancel or change it anytime.
You can retain control of the assets in the trust by naming yourself a trustee and primary beneficiary. Then, you can assign a successor trustee and secondary beneficiaries. If something happens to you, there’s someone you choose who can take over the management of the trust.
This trust’s assets go directly to your secondary beneficiaries upon passing. It saves time and money and keeps things private. So, a revocable trust helps you stay in control, avoid probate, and make things easier for your loved ones when you’re gone.
You may hold assets in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship or tenancy by the entirety for married couples. It automatically transfers the properties to the surviving owner when you’re no longer around.
Beneficiary designations are an essential part of estate and financial planning. They allow you to specify who will receive the assets in certain accounts and insurance policies after your death. This process offers several advantages, including avoiding probate and ensuring your assets go to the intended recipients.
You can gift assets to your intended beneficiaries during your lifetime. However, you must consider gift tax implications and consult your estate planning lawyer to determine if this method is advantageous.
Use Of Lady Bird Deeds
A Lady Bird Deed is a legal instrument used in real estate planning. It allows a property owner or the grantor to transfer their assets to a named beneficiary while retaining control and the right to use the property during their lifetime.
The significant feature of a Lady Bird Deed is that it allows the grantor to change their mind, revoke the deed, or sell the property without needing the beneficiary’s consent during their lifetime. They also keep the right to live in or use it for life. It then goes directly to the beneficiary, saving time and money when the grantor dies. This makes it a practical choice for estate planning in the state.
Establish Payable-On-Death (POD) & Transfer-On-Death (TOD) Accounts
Some financial institutions offer POD and TOD accounts for bank accounts and securities. These accounts are automatically transferred to designated beneficiaries upon the depositor’s death.
Establishing A Life Estate
A life estate provides you with a unique way to manage your property. This arrangement allows you, as the owner, to retain the right to live in a particular property for your lifetime, after which ownership automatically transfers to a designated beneficiary.
Family Settlement Agreements
In some cases, heirs can agree to distribute assets without going through formal probate, mainly if there are no disputes or conflicts between interested parties. This typically occurs when there is a mistake in the decedent’s will or due to poor estate planning. This informal distribution process is often faster and less costly than the formal process, making it an appealing choice for those involved. As a result, it allows heirs to receive their inheritances more quickly.
What Problems Can Arise During The Probate Process?
Although having a lawyer to help with the probate process can avoid many problems, some may still arise. Here are a few of the most common:
- Disagreements among beneficiaries or creditors
- Problems with asset titles or deeds
- Unpaid debts
- Taxes owed on the estate
If any of these problems arise, a lawyer can help resolve them. This can help keep the probate process moving forward. If you’re dealing with the death of a loved one and need help with probate, contact the Law Office of Polly Tatum today. We’ll make sure everything is done properly and efficiently so you can focus on grieving.
What Can A Lawyer Help With During Probate?
The death of a loved one is hard enough, but when you are tasked with handling their estate, it can be overwhelming. A probate lawyer can help take some of the burdens off your shoulders and guide you through the process.
Probate is the legal process of distributing a person’s assets after they die. If the deceased had a will, the executor named in the will is responsible for overseeing the distribution of assets. If there is no will, the court will appoint an administrator to handle the estate. Either way, there are a lot of paperwork and legal hoops to jump through. A probate lawyer can help make sure everything is done correctly and on time.
An attorney for probate generally helps you settle a deceased person’s estate. They can provide valuable assistance in various ways, especially when dealing with complex properties or contentious situations.
Additionally, attorneys are crucial in facilitating the orderly distribution of a decedent’s assets, resolving disputes, and ensuring a seamless process. Their experience is invaluable during a challenging and emotional time for the family and beneficiaries involved.
Probate attorneys are often associated with the process of distributing an estate. However, they also possess the knowledge and skills to guide you in structuring your estate to minimize the need for court involvement. They can help avoid this complex process through various legal strategies and tools. By working with them, you can ensure an efficient transfer of assets to your chosen beneficiaries.
Should I Hire A Probate Attorney?
The probate process can be long and complicated. If you are named executor of an estate, it is best to hire a probate lawyer. A probate lawyer can help you navigate the process and ensure that everything is done to the fullest extent of the law.
Make sure you are comfortable with the lawyer you hire. You should feel confident that they will be able to handle your case and protect your interests. Estate Attorneys at the Law Office of Polly Tatum can give you peace of mind knowing your estate planning needs are taken care of in the event of a loved one’s death. Give us a call today at (774) 366-3688 to begin the process with a helping hand.