Probate is the legal distribution of assets after an individual passes away. While laws have changed dramatically over the years, the same basic principle remains. Individuals have the option of formally declaring their intentions regarding the transfer of property once they die through a will, and after the individual passes, their assets are gathered, debts are paid and property is distributed to loved ones.
Most often, when someone chooses to leave assets to friends or family, they will list these designations in their will. Sometimes, someone’s wishes can be overridden by the court due to state law. As an example, most state laws give property rights first to the spouse of the deceased; if the deceased grants ownership of a home to a sister instead of the spouse, the court may overrule this.
There are also state laws that grant creditors the right to claims against the estate, most often with a time frame to present their claims. When estates are very large, complex or have unusual assets, or if the deceased did not leave a will, it may be necessary to consult with a probate attorney in Miami.
The Probate Process
Probate may involve contested or uncontested issues, although most are uncontested. Generally, contested issues come about when an heir is angry or upset, wanting a larger share of the estate. Other arguments may include improper influence over the deceased individual, inadequate legal formalities during the drafting of the will or insufficient mental capacity.
The basic probate process remains the same, however, and a Miami estate planning attorney can walk you through it. The first step is collecting property that belonged to the deceased, followed by the payment of any claims, debts or taxes on the estate. Next, income and dividend rights are collected and settlements are handled, then the remaining property is distributed to any heirs.
In the case of a will, the deceased will probably name an executor to manage the estate. If no one is named, the court appoints an administrator.
Why Do You Need a Probate Lawyer in Miami?
While most probated estates are not contested, you may still feel a bit overwhelmed during the process, and this is where a probate lawyer in Miami may help. You may also need to make important decisions that have serious consequences, and a legal professional can help. An estate planning attorney in Miami works closely with the family of the deceased to make sure assets are distributed properly to avoid drawn-out battles in court or hurt feelings. A probate lawyer may also help you protect your inheritance and reduce fees and taxes.