Losing a loved one is difficult, and taking on the responsibility of settling their affairs after they have passed can add confusion and stress at an already painful time. Working with an experienced estate and probate administration attorney can significantly ease this burden. Your attorney will guide you through the administration of a will, trust, or probate process, helping you to properly distribute your loved one’s property. Your attorney will handle the legal matters so you can focus on processing the loss of your loved one.
Probate is the court-supervised process by which the validity of a will, if any exists, is determined, and a decedent’s (deceased person’s) property is distributed to the appropriate beneficiaries. The total collection of all property, assets, and debts is referred to as the decedent’s estate. You do not need to own a home or land to have an estate.
The probate process ensures that the decedent’s property goes to the correct people and that those beneficiaries are given clean title to the property they inherit. Probate can be a complex and time-consuming process, and it is important that it be conducted correctly to avoid future problems.
During the probate process, the decedent’s estate will be opened and administered. A qualified estate administration attorney can help you:
Disputes may arise about the legitimacy of wills, trusts, or powers of attorney; the powers of guardians or conservators; or the administration of the estate. If there is a dispute in the probate process, we can litigate and ensure that your loved one’s estate is distributed according to his or her wishes.
Probate does not necessarily affect every aspect of a decedent’s estate. Only property distributed via a will or under the rules of intestacy is subject to the probate process. Probate is not necessary for property held as joint tenants, beneficiary designations such as life insurance policies, or property in inter vivos trusts, also known as living trusts. In Illinois and Indiana, a living trust can be used to designate beneficiaries for a wide range of assets, from furniture and cars to bank accounts. A skilled estate planning attorney can help you create the necessary documents to minimize or possibly even avoid the need for probate.
The attorneys at Spagnolo & Hoeksema, LLC have helped many families in Indiana and Illinois navigate the probate process, and we would be honored to help you, too. To learn more about our estate planning and administration services, please contact our office today.
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