“Probate” is a court-supervised process for transfer of the assets of a person who has passed away to his or her rightful heirs or beneficiaries in a manner that protects the legal and financial rights of all parties affected by the person’s passing. That would include not only the heirs or beneficiaries, but also spouses, dependent family members, individuals or professionals who may agree to become involved in settling the estate, persons who have co-ownership interests in assets of the decedent, tax and governmental agencies, creditors, and potential claimants against the decedent. There are a range of different procedures which are authorized to carry out the probate process, depending on factors such as the amount of assets, the presence or absence of conflict among the interested parties, and whether any claims being asserted against the estate assets are disputed.
Completing the probate process properly is important, not only from the perspective of carrying out the wishes of the person who has passed, but also in order to avoid challenges from creditors, claimants, disaffected would-be beneficiaries or others. The probate process must also be accomplished properly in order to avoid federal or state income and/or estate tax problems.
When we represent clients in probate proceedings or in matters involving settlement of a trust, our goal is to make the process as quick, easy and efficient as reasonably possible. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is hard enough. While we cannot change that, we can help to ensure that the process of getting the related legal issues resolved does not unnecessarily generate additional stress.