Whether you are planning for your future or in the process of resolving the estate of a loved one, it may be in your best interest to enlist the assistance of Philadelphia probate attorneys you can trust. Our team at Klenk Law knows the process of probate can seem not only daunting but also overwhelming. With our help, our experienced team of professionals can answer your questions and provide the guidance and representation you need. We know that many may dread probate, and when enduring the process, there are sure to be many questions; see below for the answers you are looking for:
What is probate?
When a person has passed away, their estate must be passed through probate. Probate is the legal process of validating someone’s estate by settling debts and paying any estate taxes that may be owed. Perhaps one of the most critical components to probate for beneficiaries is the process of validating the will. Additionally, should someone die intestate (or without a will), probate can refer to intestate law to decide how assets will be distributed.
Why is probate important?
Many people would rather not tackle the probate process. However, Philadelphia probate lawyers share that probate is not just about ensuring that debts are paid, and taxes are settled. Probate is vital for checks and balances because it validates the will, ensuring that the will was correctly created. It also officially appoints the executor, allows the opportunity for the will to be contested, and manages situations where there is no will or beneficiaries who have been identified.
Is probate as scary as it’s made out to be?
Many people dread probate, especially when there is no will and the court is left to make decisions, or another person has contested the will. However, there are a few ways to mitigate problems. When a person puts forth proper planning, they can reduce problems down the road. Additionally, with assistance from a professional, it’s possible to retain wealth by heirs by decreasing the number of assets that must pass through probate.
Are there ways to avoid the probate process?
For many people engaged in estate planning, their first question is whether they can avoid probate. While it may be possible to circumvent probate, consulting with your lawyer will be in your best interest. With their assistance, they can help strategize your estate plan to mitigate the required assets to pass through. One of the best ways to avoid probate is by developing a trust, which can be an alternative to the last will and testament.
What role does a probate lawyer play during the process?
Depending upon your needs, a probate lawyer can take on a variety of roles. When estate planning, our firm can strategize your estate plan by offering strategic solutions tailored to meet your specific needs. With our assistance, we can ensure that your wealth is retained and passed on to your beneficiaries.
What questions should you ask a probate Attorney at the First Meeting?
Following the death of a loved one, the thought of going through probate for that person’s estate can seem daunting. It helps to come prepared before meeting with Philadelphia Probate Attorneys to help the process go smoothly.
Accumulate Important Documents
After scheduling the meeting, it helps to ask the Philadelphia Probate Attorneys what information needs to be brought by the client. Normally, these documents include the following:
Questions Regarding Working with the Attorney
One of the main purposes of this meeting is to not only tell the attorney about the case but to make decisions about hiring the probate attorney.
Bring a list of questions to ask the attorney about his or her experience. Questions may include how long the attorney has practiced in probate law, what type of experience he or she has with the probate court that will handle the deceased’s estate, and what the attorney’s fees will be, as well as how they will be paid.
Payment varies depending on the attorney, but normally, once the estate account is open, fees are normally paid through that source by the personal representative or executor of the estate.
What Does Probate Involve?
Have the attorney walk the client through what to expect in the probate process, from start to finish. Most individuals are not aware of what happens after a will is filed with the probate court, and it helps to clear up any misconceptions or confusion.
One question can even be: is probate necessary. Some state probate laws does not necessarily require estates to go through probate court, but it is a good idea to protect the estate against any problems in the future and other liabilities. Ask the attorney how long he or she expects it to take, which can normally be six months to a year depending on how big the estate is.
What Are the Executor’s Legal Duties?
Normally, the individual meeting with the probate attorney after the loved one has died is the person already named in the will as the executor.
Have the attorney clearly describe what the duties of an executor or administrator are. Duties may include managing the estate property, distributing all funds to beneficiaries, and paying all outstanding financial liabilities of the deceased. Have the attorney explain what a fiduciary duty is and what this means when it comes to the executor’s actions.
How Are Creditors Handled?
Another question that can be helpful at this meeting is how will outstanding bills or financial obligations be handled? Under Georgia probate law, all creditors of an estate are entitled to be paid from the proceeds of the estate. If there is not enough liquid assets available from which to pay these creditors, sometimes the executor will have to make the decision to sell property to pay creditors.
Probate law also has a specific order by which creditors are to be paid. It is important that the executor get this information to appropriately pay creditors before closing the estate to avoid any future liability.
What If Someone Is Mishandling the Estate?
Sometimes it is not the executor who meets with the probate attorney. Certain situations do arise where a concerned beneficiary believes the current executor is mishandling the estate assets. Georgia probate law prohibits this and does offer legal recourse, but it needs to be taken quickly to stop these actions from happening.
When these situations do arise, it is almost always recommended that a probate attorney be hired given the complexity of the issues involved and how quickly things need to happen to protect the estate from further misuse.
What will happen if my loved one has died without a will?
A person who has passed away without a will has died intestate. While those with a will in place will have to endure probate, so will the estates of those who do not have a will in place. During this process, the judge who presides over probate court will make critical decisions such as assigning an executor to resolve the estate.
At Klenk Law, we know the process of estate planning can be daunting. For beneficiaries and executors, resolving an estate can be incredibly stressful. To mitigate problems down the road and ensure that your wishes are carried out as intended, reach out to our probate attorneys in Philadelphia.
I have worked with Peter Klenk & his associates for some time now and I have found them to be ultra-qualified, knowledgeable and diligent about their work. I highly recommend them.
Answered my question quickly and referred me to a colleague that could handle my problem
Peter Klenk made a complex subject understandable and allowed us to move forward with our estate planning. He was patient with our questions and creative in the solutions he proposed.
I was referred to Peter after my divorce to put documents together to protect my assets. He suggested a number of documents that would help protect my children and their future. Also, he put together wills, power of attorney and living wills. I initially spoke with him on the phone, he took 30-40 minutes to understand my situation and explain the benefits of having such documents. After a week or two, I met with him in his office and signed the documents. Everything else was remote phone calls and emails. He re-explained these documents and what whom to share. I am in good hands.
Professional, cheerful, thorough and fast. Peter responded to my request for a consultation right away, and within just a few days my last will and living will were done. Rates are standard.