When a person passes away, their will isn’t executed automatically. An estate is distributed through a court process known as probate. How long and how complicated the process is depends on what kind of estate planning methods were used.
If a person dies without a will, their assets are distributed in accordance with state intestacy laws that divide the estate proportionally among close family members. In probate, all assets, including cash, investments, and real estate, must be valued. If the family cannot agree on who can take what assets or to hold a valuable piece of real estate jointly, non-cash assets may be sold so that the proceeds may be shared.
With a Will
Even with a will in place, there are often complications. At least part of a will will frequently be out of date and require the court to come up with a solution that’s in line with both the law and the deceased’s wishes. There may be property or assets not covered by the will that must be handled according to intestacy laws. If a will used proportional division, a full accounting of the estate will be required so that it can be properly divided. In addition, the legal paperwork for the transfer of real estate, vehicles, and investments will also need to be filed.
Probate is also the time when legal challenges to a will may be filed. Common examples include a conflict over whether a will was made with the proper mental capacity or which version of a will is the most current and legally binding version. These disputes are often determined by complex legal arguments that can be difficult for a non-lawyer to understand.
To get help from an experienced probate lawyer in Tampa and St. Petersburg, contact the Law Office of John K. Carter today.