When a family member or friend dies, you may find yourself involved in the probate process. The probate process takes place in court, and it is the process by which assets belonging to the deceased person transfer to their new owners. The probate process is a complicated one in many situations, especially if there are questions about whether the deceased left a valid will behind or not. Everyone has their role to play within probate, and navigating the legal process to fulfill your obligations can be difficult when you’re dealing with a death.
Biddinger, Bitzer, Estelle & Rastigue, PLLC is here to help. Give our Northern Michigan probate lawyers a call at 989-872-5601 to find out about the personalized solutions we offer during probate and to get answers to important questions including:
- What happens during probate?
- Who should be represented by an attorney during probate?
- How can a Northern Michigan probate lawyer help?
What Happens During Probate?
The probate process must begin after a deceased person has passed away, except in limited circumstances such as when the deceased made an estate plan which allowed all assets to transfer outside of probate. The deceased should have named an executor in his will. If he did, the executor is going to be responsible for starting the probate process by filing court paperwork and paying filing fees. If the deceased failed to name an executor, then the probate court will have to appoint a personal representative. A personal representative is also appointed in situations where the person who was named as an executor cannot fulfill the role. The personal representative or the executor does many things during probate including:
- Making an inventory of assets that are part of the estate.
- Notifying creditors of the death and the probate process.
- Notifying next of kin and those named in the will of the death and probate process.
- Filing all paperwork with the court throughout the entirety of the probate process.
- Defending the will if the will is challenged during probate.
- Managing all property that is part of the probate estate.
- Securing valuations on property that is part of the estate.
- Filing tax returns and paying any taxes required on the state or federal level.
- Transferring title of real property and otherwise facilitating the transfer of all probate assets to new owners.
Executors or personal representatives are the individuals with the most responsibility during probate, so it is these individuals who most need to get legal help. You need to faithfully fulfill your obligations under Michigan probate law and comply with all lawful instructions the deceased left in his will if you are going to be an executor. An attorney should help you to make certain you can do that.
Who Should be Represented by an Attorney During Probate?
Because of their role in the probate and trust administration process, executors and personal representatives should pursue legal advice as soon as possible after death. An attorney provides assistance meeting time deadlines, taking care of technical court paperwork, and understanding duties so they can be fulfilled. Your Michigan probate lawyer can take the stress out of being an executor so you can do your duty to the deceased without worry.
Those who are going to inherit money or property in a will have a much more minimal role to play during probate. This does not mean, however, that you should not take steps to ensure that the property you inherit gets to you in a timely manner and is taken care of until you assume ownership. It is often a smart idea for those who will inherit to have a legal advocate on their side to provide information and guidance during the probate process and to make certain their rights are respected at all times.
Finally, there are certain situations where someone decides to challenge a will. If you believe that you have information about a problem with a will and do not think the will should be probated, you can talk with a probate lawyer about raising a challenge. Your attorney will help with the process of arguing against the validity of the will so you can make sure the true wishes of the deceased are respected.
How can a Northern Michigan Probate Lawyer Help?
Biddinger, Bitzer, Estelle & Rastigue, PLLC provides comprehensive assistance throughout the probate process to clients in Cass City, Bad Axe, Caro, Deckerville, Reese, and surrounding areas throughout Michigan. No matter what your role after someone has passed away, we can provide the help you need. Give us a call at 989-872-5601 or contact us online to learn more.