We all handle the loss of a loved one differently. One thing we all have in common is that sooner or later we all lose someone we love. It is not a matter of IF but a matter of WHEN. When that time comes, the last thing you should worry about is how to handle all the “legal stuff”.
No matter how “expected” a loss may be, it is never easy. Regardless of your faith and belief system, losing someone hurts. We understand death is inevitable, but it does not make it any easier. You need to be able to focus on your family’s needs during this time, not worrying about transferring titles or losing the house. Let us worry about the details, while you concentrate on your family.
What You Should Know About Probate
One of the biggest mistakes we see is with a husband and wife. Typically, a husband and wife prepare Wills leaving each other everything. When one spouse dies, the surviving spouse thinks probate is not necessary since they receive everything. This is not necessarily true. The children are often faced with having to address both estates rather than one. Sometimes it isn’t the spouse but the children. Maybe it is the size of the estate or too many creditors. If you do not probate the estate, many issues may arise.
Types of Probate Proceedings
Certain factors determine the type of proceeding necessary with regard to probate. One of the biggest factors is whether a person died with a will or without. If the Decedent left a Will, you may need to obtain Letters Testamentary. Letters Testamentary is a document that gives notice to others of the name of the Executor. This document shows that an Executor has the legal authority to act as such.
Letters of Administration (Independent or Dependent) is typically where a person died without a Will and an individual is named as the Administrator. Depending on the County where the probate is initiated, some require a Determination of Heirship to be included in an administration. With an heirship proceeding, the Court will sign an order that actually names the heirs of the Estate and their respective shares.
If the Estate is small, it may qualify for a Small Estate Affidavit. In order for this to apply, the individual could not have died leaving a valid Will. In addition, the Estate’s assets should exceed the liabilities and the value of the assets cannot exceed $75,000. This amount is excluding homestead and exempt property. If these apply, then the Estate could qualify for a Small Estate Affidavit.
There are times when only an Affidavit of Facts Concerning the Identity of Heirs is necessary. Whatever your needs are, we are here to help ease the burden. Contact us to assist you during this difficult time.