A probate attorney is a state-licensed attorney whose area of specialization is rendering assistance to personal representatives — called executors — and also the beneficiaries of an estate, on how to settle the final estate affairs of a deceased person. If you have been named as an executor of a will, and the owner of the will lived or owned an estate in Sullivan County, then it is in your best interests to consult the services of a probate attorney Sullivan County.
As an executor of a will, you are faced with the responsibility of initiating probate in a Surrogate’s court. The probate attorney Sullivan County is well-versed in the estate and probate laws existing in Sullivan County, and will guide you through this probate and ensure you make no mistakes that may go against the wishes of the testator. But what is probate?
The probate process
Process is a legal process by which a will is given validity in a law court. According to the New York laws which also applies to Sullivan County, the probate process must be initiated and carried out in a Surrogate’s court in the same county where the testator of the will lived or owned assets. This legal process is basically for certifying if the will ideally meets with the requirements of the state laws. If it does, then all the wishes of the decedent written in the will will be effected and the estate distributed to the beneficiaries after all estate debts have been paid. If it doesn’t meet with the full requirements of the state laws, then the will becomes invalid and the dictates of the testator becomes irrelevant. In such a case, the estate will be administered according to the intestate laws existing in the territory. However, an estate administrator will also be appointed in place of the executor. In estate administration, the process is, as expected, quite different from probate. If you have been appointed as either an executor or an estate administrator, then you should consider seeking the legal guidance of a probate attorney.
In many occasions, people die without creating a will, or the estate worth less than $30,000. In cases like this, the estate will no longer be probated but administered. In any of these cases, a personal representative must be appointed who will see to the administration of the estate.
Role of the probate attorney Sullivan County
The probate attorney is often responsible for walking the personal representative through the probate process from start to finish. All the steps to be followed in probating an estate depend on the probate laws effective in the locality where the decedent lived at the time of death, and any other state where he owned property. You as an executor or a beneficiary to a will may not have sufficient background knowledge about these laws, and due to the complexity and delicateness of probate, it is not advised you handle it yourself.
As a beneficiary, you can hire the probate attorney to offer advise and other legal matters during the course of the probate process. This becomes most needful when you do not get along well with or trust the executor.
Basically, a probate attorney assists a personal representatives in the following areas:
1. Collecting assets
The attorney will assist the executor in locating and securing all assets in the name of the decedent, appraising and valuating each asset. Insurance proceeds will also have to be collected by the executor as well as IRAs and 401(k)s, after which the assets will be retitled in the name of the beneficiaries. All these paperwork will be handled by the probate attorney, before property are distributed to the beneficiaries.
2. Handling finances
3. Settling disputes
It is also common to see strife between an executor and the beneficiaries, or among the beneficiaries. Wills may be “contested, that is, one or more parties disputing the validity and dictates of the will. These matters are better handled legally and it is the duty of the probate attorney to settle these disputes and request court’s permission in taking certain actions based on state laws, such as sales of property. Court’s approval can help give reassurance to dissatisfied parties.
Why you need the probate attorney
It is undisputed that much of what’s required in settling an estate can be effectively handled by the executor alone, but more complicated estates can be a potential bag of trouble for the executor and beneficiaries when the estate include complex assets like business interests, or the estate have insufficient funds to pay all estate debts. Also, probate attorneys are reliable in settling differences between estranged executors and beneficiaries.
Still thinking of doing it yourself? Why not have a hitch-free probate? Contact the probate attorney Sullivan County today.