Do You Need to go to Court to File Probate?

The matter of probate can be tricky, especially to someone who isn’t well-versed in the field of law. You may wonder if it’s necessary to bring the probate to court in order to file it. Here’s more information on what this process looks like and of course, it’s a good idea to reach out to work with a probate lawyer to ensure that you’re conducting it all properly.

What is probate exactly? 

Probate is defined as the court-supervised process to authenticate a last will and testament. This involves a determination of the value of the deceased person’s assets. In addition, this will deal with any final taxes and bills as well as distributing the rest of their estate to the beneficiaries who have been named.

When is it required to conduct the probate process?

Each individual state has its own laws that declare what is required in order to probate an estate. This can be found in the probate codes for the estate. There also are laws that allow for intestate succession when a person dies without having a will in place. Even if there is not a will, probate is necessary because it is how any final bills and estate distribution will occur. Steps for both of these tend to be fairly similar.

If you do not expect the will there to be any issues with creditors and the inheritors are not contesting any parts of the will, you can conduct an informal probate. This means that there will not be any court hearings. You will still need to have an executor in place and have a great deal of paperwork drafted to serve as a type of contract on who will get what assets and part of the estate. The person who wishes to serve as the executor must get this official role by filing with the probate court.

Start the process by requesting that the court make you the official executor of the will. If you’re uncertain about what this entails, it’s beneficial to do some research before you bring your request to a court official. One major aspect of this role is that you will have to protect and manage the estate during the probate process, such as opening a bank account for the estate and having income tax returns prepared.

In most instances, state courts will have forms to complete the petition. This makes it an easier process than it would be otherwise. Be sure to discuss with a probate attorney what you’ll need to fill out and how to obtain what you need.

Should you go to court?

Many states have laws that require whoever has possession of the deceased individual’s will to file it with the probate court as soon as they are reasonably able to do so. Typically, a petition or application to open probate of the state would be done at this time. A death certificate may be filed along with them. Court proceedings are ideal if you expect anyone to object to something in the will or there are many complicated aspects of the will to be sorted out.

What will happen in court? 

The probate judge must confirm that the will is valid. A court hearing may be required for this step. All beneficiaries and heirs must receive notice that there will be a hearing.

This hearing allows for all concerned parties to object to the will that is up for probate. There are many reasons why someone may object, including that it hasn’t been drafted properly, there’s an issue brought up regarding the appointment of the executor who was named in the will, or someone has a more recent will in their possession.

Another crucial part of the court proceedings is that witnesses will get to speak regarding the will. Before any further action is taken, the judge needs to determine that the submitted will is real and valid. They’ll either accept a self-proving affidavit or a witness may be asked either to testify or sign a sworn statement that indicates they saw the decedent sign the will and that the will in probate is the exact one that they witnessed being signed.

It is important to have proper assistance with a last will and testament. Seek out a highly qualified lawyer at Bunch & Brock Attorneys at Law, serving the greater Lexington KY area. You will sure to be pleased with the results.

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