Probate is the legal process by which a deceased person’s will is validated by the court. After a will has been validated, the deceased person’s assets are appraised and accounted for, debts and taxes are paid, and the remaining property is disbursed to inheritors as the will requires. During the probate process, the family of the deceased or the executor of the will must show the court that the person has indeed died, that all property has been accounted for, and that all debts and taxes have been paid before the deceased person’s property can be distributed to heirs. The time following a loved one’s death can be highly stressful and emotional. The idea of navigating the court system can create added stress. Having a compassionate and caring probate lawyer on your side can make a big difference as you make final arrangements for your loved one. The Estate, Trust, & Elder Law Firm, P.L. in Port St. Lucie, Florida is a probate lawyer who can assist you and your family with the probate process. Contact us today to learn more about how we may be able to help you.
Issues that Can Arise During Probate in Port St. Lucie, Florida
In many cases, probate is a legal formality. A will is proven in court, debts and taxes are paid, and heirs receive their inheritance. However, sometimes issues can arise during the probate process. Probate litigation can lead to a long drawn out court case that can result in a will being in probate for weeks, months, and in some rare cases, years. What are some issues that can arise during a probate?
- An heir disagrees with the wording of the will. A will can face probate litigation if one of the deceased person’s heirs believes he or she should receive more money or assets than the will stipulates. There are several ways that an heir can challenge a will. For example, an heir can claim that a person was improperly influenced when writing his or her will. Or, an heir can claim that the person who wrote the will was not of sound mind when writing the will. If a will wasn’t properly signed before witnesses or if the wording is ambiguous or unclear, the will could also be contested in court. To avoid this challenge in probate, families should always have a lawyer review their wills to assess the risk of probate litigation. Complex family relationships, like situations where siblings don’t get along or situations where the deceased was married more than once can lead to family members contesting a will in court. If you anticipate that your complex financial situation might lead to probate litigation, contact the probate attorneys in Port St. Lucie, Florida at the Estate, Trust, & Elder Law Firm, P.L. today.
- Unusual estate plans. If the deceased person disinherits a child or doesn’t leave anything to a spouse, this situation could lead to probate litigation. Sometimes individuals write wills and don’t inform family about what is in the will. When the will is sent to probate after the person passes away, sometimes families are shocked to learn that the estate plan isn’t what they expected. This can lead to a contested will in probate. The best way to avoid this issue is to seek the counsel of an estate planning lawyer when writing your will to anticipate any challenges your will might face in probate.
- Trust litigation. While probate court handles wills, trusts can also face challenges, especially if the person charged to manage the trust mismanages it, or if the language designating beneficiaries is unclear.
- Contested debts. During the probate process, creditors must be informed about the person’s death and valid debts must be paid before heirs can receive the deceased person’s assets, property, and money. A public notice of the person’s death must also be made so that any other creditors have a chance to make valid claims on the estate. However, sometimes debts are not valid. If new or unexpected creditors are making claims on your loved one’s estate, the probate law firm at the Estate, Trust, & Elder Law Firm, P.L. in Port St. Lucie, Florida can help protect your rights.
- Property in multiple states. If your deceased loved one owned property or assets in more than one state, the probate process can get more complicated because the will may need to be proven in each state where your loved one had assets. The Estate, Trust, & Elder Law Firm, P.L. in Port St. Lucie, Florida are probate lawyers who can assist you with complex probate issues.
The best way to protect yourself is to hire a probate lawyer like the Estate, Trust, & Elder Law Firm, P.L. in Port St. Lucie, Florida today. Our compassionate and caring attorneys can address any issues that may arise and fight to help you get out of probate as quickly as possible.
What is the Probate Process in Port St. Lucie, Florida?
When probate litigation issues don’t arise, the probate process usually follows certain steps. A probate attorney like the Estate, Trust, & Elder Law Firm, P.L. in Port St. Lucie, Florida can help you navigate these steps. They include:
- Validating the Will. The will is taken to court where it is validated by the court. Generally, the court will want to double check that the deceased has, in fact, passed away, and that the will was properly executed and that heirs have a chance to dispute any issues.
- Appraising all property. All property, assets, and money that the deceased person owned must be accounted for.
- Debts and taxes must be paid. The probate process itself may cost money and court fees and attorneys’ fees must also be paid.
- Distributing assets and property to heirs.
If your loved one has recently passed away and you have questions about navigating the probate process, consider speaking to the Estate, Trust, & Elder Law Firm, P.L. in Port St. Lucie, Florida today. Our compassionate attorneys can help you navigate what might be a very difficult time for your family. You are not alone. We can help you address any issues that may arise and help you get through probate as quickly as possible.