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Probate Law

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What Is Probate?
Probate is a legal court proceeding supervised by a probate court judge that is used to gather a deceased person’s assets, pay creditors, court costs, and taxes and then distribute what is left to those entitled to receive it.

The Probate Process
The probate process allows creditors to make claims for debts incurred during the deceased’s lifetime and allows the estate to pursue other legal actions pertaining to the decedent. Notice of the probate proceeding must be given to all known creditors. It must also be given to all relatives who may be legal heirs, even if they are not included in the will.

How Long Does Probate Take?
In probate proceedings, the court sets the time limit in which creditors may file claims. The probate estate cannot be closed until the period for filing claims has expired and settlement with each creditor has been resolved. In general, you can expect a probate proceeding to last one year or longer. There have been many notable cases that have been tied up in probate court for several years.

Steps to Avoiding Probate
Fortunately, probate can be avoided. Titling property with someone else in joint tenancy is one way to avoid having the estate settled in probate court. In this scenario, the property will be transferred to the surviving joint tenant probate-free. In some community property states, probate can also be avoided for married couples who title their property as community property so that it passes probate-free to the surviving spouse. Unfortunately, both of these options are flawed in that they provide little protection in the case that one or both spouses become disabled or pass away. They also leave couples vulnerable to unforeseen tax consequences, loss of assets, and other misfortunes.

A simple and superior way of avoiding probate is to place your property in a trust so that it passes probate-free.

Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Probate Attorney
Unfortunately, it is sometimes too late to avoid the probate process. If your loved one dies without the proper protections in place, then you and your family will need to settle the estate in probate court. An experienced probate attorney can represent you throughout this sometimes grueling process, filing motions and pleadings as necessary. An expert probate attorney can also support you should a will be contested in court.

Whether you’re looking for an experienced Illinois probate attorney or New York probate attorney, we can help!

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