At the time of their death, most people leave behind some assets and carry some debt, both of which effectively make up their estate. Some manage to have a Will drawn before their deaths, while others pass on without having even consulted an attorney for help in estate planning.
However, whether or not the deceased has a Will, these assets and liabilities need to be effectively managed and distributed and that’s where the probate court system comes in.
Probate is the process by which Courts permit the wrapping up of the final affairs of a deceased person, including resolution of creditor claims and distributing assets to the persons entitled to them. These proceedings can range in complexity depending on the types of assets owned by the decedent, the claims brought by creditors, disputes over the authenticity of a Will that could lead to probate litigation, and the determination of the rightful heirs, among other things.
The entire probate process, however, can be avoided if the deceased has a Trust set up before his or her death. Ideally, if done right, Trusts are an effective and efficient manner of winding up a deceased trustor’s affairs. However, the trust must be administered correctly not only to settle the affairs of the decedent but to avoid any tax penalties and other issues as well. Failure to do so could result in the estate unnecessarily incurring fees and property taxes.
At Provident Law®, we offer our experienced and knowledgeable counsel for Probate and Trust administration. The primary goal of our attorneys who specialize in probate and trust administration is to carry out the terms of a trust, last will, and testament, or in the case of a person who dies without having made a will, follow intestate succession laws in order to protect the interests and asset values of beneficiaries. And if disputes arise, our probate and trust litigation lawyers will help you resolve any and all issues.
Where there is a Will, the probate process usually starts with the nominated Personal Representative of a Will filing all the necessary paperwork with the local probate court. Whomever is appointed as the Personal Representative, will also have to provide the court with a list of the properties, debts, and beneficiaries that form the estate. The payment of debts and transfer of assets can then begin once everything has been established.
The same process is still followed when there is no Will, but the absence of a Will means there are no beneficiaries named, so it’s up to the court to determine who will inherit what, and it will do so in keeping with state laws. Once all assets, liabilities, and beneficiaries have been established, the Personal Representative can start paying debts, transferring assets, and otherwise generally administer the estate.
The entire probate process can be a lengthy and tedious one, more so if somebody challenges a provision of the Will or raises any legal issue. For that, you will need an experienced probate litigation attorney to assist you every step of the way. Call us at Provident Law®, and enlist the help of a probate attorney Scottsdale AZ residents have come to trust.
The administration of a Trust is usually done outside the court system. A typical Trust has a designated trustee, who will distribute the assets of the decedent in keeping with the terms as stated in the trust’s governing documents. With our experience representing clients in the administration of trusts and estates, we at Provident Law® can guide a designated trustee throughout the entire process.
Should the Trust need to resort to the Courts to resolve any issues, our attorneys are also experienced in litigating issues arising with Trusts.