Probate is a word that many people dealing with the distribution of an estate fear. However, is it as bad as it sounds? Estate lawyers often get phone calls by family members who are about to begin the probate process. In many of these situations, we provide legal representation to make their lives less stressful. The following should provide you with a general understanding of the probate process. If you have any further questions or would like to retain an estate lawyer, please call a probate attorney Allentown, PA residents can count on, Klenk Law, a boutique estate law firm.
The Probate Process
Probate is considered to be a title proceeding and is mandatory after a person dies and owns property including land, houses, valuables, cars, etc. Probate will help to determine the ownership of this property and distribute it accordingly and a good probate attorney in Allentown, PA can guide you through the process.
When there is a Will
If the decedent (i.e. person who died) left a will, the executor, or person who has been left in charge of the estate, is sworn in by the court. It will be the executors responsibility to notify beneficiaries and anyone else who might have an interest in the estate; for example, creditors.
During this time, anyone who would like to contest the will can do so until the statute of limitations expires. Reasons a person might contest the will include:
In general if you would like to contest a will, you should retain a good probate attorney in Allentown, PA.
If there is no one to contest the will, and everything is in order, the probate process should be relatively straightforward. The executor will need to ensure all debts are paid, including taxes, before beginning the distribution of assets. In general, the larger the estate, the more time it will take to complete probate. Smaller estates, usually worth less than $50,000, will qualify for an expedited probate process. Probate can take between 1 month and several years or more before it can be finalized, but an experienced probate attorney serving Allentown, PA can help expedite the process.
When there is No Will
If the decedent did not leave a will, or if a court finds the will to be invalid, state laws and regulations will determine the next rightful owner. When there is no will, it is called intestate. The heirs of a will in intestate are usually the surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, and other non intermediate family members. Although it varies by each state, the surviving spouse is typically entitled to one third to one half of the estate. Children may receive the remainder unless the surviving spouse was a joint owner of the property. In this case it will likely pass immediately to him or her, in full.
Contrary to what you might have been told, if there is no will, the state does not automatically get the property. The probate process will still ensue and is similar to that of a process in which a will is involved. The time it takes to complete the probate process without a will could be slightly longer and having an Allentown, PA probate attorney on your side can help.
Is Probate that Bad?
Ask an estate lawyer, like an estate planning lawyer about probate and whether it’s really as bad as some say, and you may likely be told that it is a simple, logical, and well ordered process. The bad reputation often comes from the fees such as taxes, administrator fees, accounting fees, court fees, and legal fees. The executor of an estate is entitled to be compensated, and can be between 5 and 10 percent of the estate. This of course varies by each case. Ideally the creator of the living will and testament will arrange for compensation of all professional services, including the executor fees.
If you would like to learn more or have your personal concerns addressed, you can consult with a probate attorney Allentown, PA residents trust, Klenk Law, a boutique estate law firm.