If you are thinking of buying, selling, leasing, or investing in real estate, you should consult with an experienced attorney to ensure that your transaction is properly completed. Our attorneys are experienced in handling transactions involving commercial, industrial, and residential properties, as well as, undeveloped land, farms, and ranches.
We help clients with the following matters:
Probate and Estate Administration
When a loved one passes away, his or her estate often goes through a court-managed process called probate or estate administration where the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed. If your loved one owned his or her assets through a well-drafted and properly funded living trust, it is likely that no court-managed administration is necessary and the successor trustee will administer the distribution of the deceased's assets.
The length of time needed to complete the probate of an estate depends on the size and complexity of the estate and the local rules and schedule of the probate court. Every probate estate is unique, but most involve the following steps:
Frequently Asked Questions
An objection to a will, also known as a “will contest”, is a fairly common occurrence during the probate proceedings and can be incredibly costly to litigate.
In order to contest a will, one has to have legal “standing” to raise objections. This usually occurs when, for example, children are to receive disproportionate shares under the will, or when distribution schemes change from a prior will to a later one. In addition to disputes over the tangible distributions, will contests can be a quarrel over the person designated to serve as executor.
Probate is primarily a process through which the title is transferred from the name of the deceased to the names of the beneficiaries. Certain types of assets that are called “non-probate assets” do not go through probate. These include:
- Property in which you own title as “joint tenants with right of survivorship”. Such property passes to the co-owners by operation of law and does not go through probate.
- Retirement accounts such as IRA and 401(k) accounts where there are designated beneficiaries.
- Life insurance policies.
- Bank accounts with “pay on death” (POD) designations or “in trust for” designations.
- Property owned by a living trust. Legal title to such property passes to successor trustees without having to go through probate.
Executors are reimbursed for all legitimate out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the process of management and distribution of the deceased estate. In addition, you may be entitled to statutory fees, which vary from location to location and on the size of the probate estate. The executor has to fulfill his or her fiduciary duties on behalf of the estate with the highest degree of integrity and can be held liable for mismanagement of estate assets in his or her care. It is advised that the executor retain an attorney and an accountant to advise and assist him with his or her duties.
If you have any questions about real estate or estate planning and administration, give us a call. Our legal professionals are here to help.