A Probate Lawyer Explains What to Expect in Probate Court
The probate court, also known as chancery or surrogate’s court, is a unique court which handles cases specific to the management of an estate following the death of an individual. This includes the distribution of property, finances, and debts to beneficiaries. While the court ensures that your assets are distributed properly to your beneficiaries, the main reason probate court exists is to dispense payments toward debts owed to creditors following a death. To prepare for probate court, you should work closely with a probate lawyer.
At Davidson Law Group, we handle many cases that go through probate court and our clients often have questions about the process. To help you better understand what probate court is and how to proceed, here is a guide on what to expect from the experience.
Working with a Probate Lawyer to Get Started
Unless you have a clear understanding of the probate process, it’s a good idea to hire a probate lawyer to help you get the ball rolling. Before probate court proceeds, a petition must be filed along with the will and any other forms required by the state. Somebody will then be given the task of representing the case. This will either be an executor or a court-appointed administrator if there is not a will. This individual is tasked with filing documents, determining what is owed to creditors, letting beneficiaries know they are being left something by the deceased, and other important tasks.
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With and Without a Will
Probate court is different depending on whether or not there is a will, and your probate lawyer can offer more insight on this. When an individual dies intestate (without a will), he or she leaves the distribution of assets and debts open to interpretation. With no will, family, friends, and creditors may argue over who gets what. Fortunately, there is a section of probate law that is set in place for this exact reason. All 50 states have intestate succession laws that guide the distribution of assets to family. If no order of distribution is outlined by the deceased in a will, this state law governs the order of distribution, including property.
On the other hand, when somebody dies with a will, the distribution of assets is followed as ordered in this legally-binding document. This might include family, friends, and even charitable organizations. When working with a will, the probate court will first determine the validity of said document before offering what is owed to the will’s beneficiaries.
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Length of Probate
Probate length depends on a variety of circumstances. On average, probate takes a few months, but this timeline can extend into years if there is confusion or disagreement. Unfortunately, the longer the probate process is extended, the more expensive it becomes. This is another reason why having a probate attorney on hand is essential to the process. Keeping things moving at a fast pace is both financially and emotionally beneficial to everyone involved.
Contact Davidson Law Group
For more information on probate court or to speak to an experienced probate lawyer, contact the Davidson Law Group today! We serve the greater Dallas area, with offices in Fort Worth, Allen, and Tyler.