Top Ten Probate Tips

Thank you for visiting our website!  The Davidson Law Firm, P.C. and Charlotte probate lawyer, Dave Davidson, is happy to provide you the following Top Ten Probate Tips.  If you would like assistance with the probate of your deceased family member’s estate, please call our Charlotte probate law firm at 704-540-5154. 
 
After a family member has passed there are several steps you may have to take to probate the estate.
 
1)         Obtain a Death Certificate. 
 
            You cannot begin anything with regard to your family member’s estate without
            the death certificate.  This is true for the Court and the banks.
 
            You will need to obtain multiple originals of the death certificate.
 
2)         Provide the Death Certificate to All Necessary Institutions.
 
            Once the Death Certificate is obtained, you should provide it to the deceased’s
            bank and other financial institutions so the assets in those accounts can be
            frozen.
 
3)         Find the Last Will & Testament.
 
            Hopefully, your family member has a Last Will & Testament.  Finding the Will
            is important as it outlines the deceased’s wishes as to how to distribute his
            property and assets. 
 
            If there is a Will, then you will likely have to probate the estate which begins with
            submitting the Will to the Clerk of Court in the county the deceased lived in.
 
4)         Determine Who the Executor Is.
 
            If there is a Last Will and Testament, the Will should identify one or more
            individuals to handle the affairs of the estate.  If there is not a Last Will and
            Testament, then a family member can request the Court appoint an Administrator
            of the estate to handle all the legwork involved in probating an estate.
 
5)         Begin Probate/Estate Administration Process.
 
            With the Last Will and Testament and Death Certificate in hand, you can begin
            the probate of the estate.  You will be required to file the appropriate paperwork
            with the Court of the county of the deceased’s residence at death.  Sometimes a
            fee is required so be prepared for this.
 
6)         Determine Assets.
 
            You and the executor/administrator will want to determine what assets your
            deceased family member has at the time of death.  The term “assets” covers a lot
            of categories, but can include cash, real estate, mutual funds, stocks and bonds.
 
7)         Determine Liabilities.
 
            Finding out what liabilities (or debts) are outstanding.  Despite the fact that
            your family member died, you will still need to pay the outstanding bills and
            debts the decedent owed at the time of death.  Depending on the nature of the
            bills/taxes, the bills/taxes only need to be paid from the deceased relative’s            
            assets.  Most times family members are not responsible for a deceased relative’s
            bills and taxes.
 
8)         Pay off Bills & Outstanding Taxes.
 
            Once the estate is open, you can collect the assets into the estate.  You have a duty
            to preserve the assets so that the debts and any outstanding taxes can be paid.
 
            This gets a little tricky as some assets can be distributed prior to paying debts and
            others must be maintained for paying the debts and taxes.
 
9)         Distribute Assets.
           
            If all debts and taxes are paid, you may be able to distribute the assets.  If there is
            a Last Will and Testament, then you are required to distribute them according to
            the Will’s directions. 
 
            If there is not a Will, then state law will govern how estates are distributed. 
 
10)       File All Necessary Documents.
 
            The probate process involves filing multiple documents with the Court and the
            documents must be filed within certain time limits.  Once the process is begun,
            it is important to meet all deadlines or the executor of the estate can be found to
            be in contempt of court. 
 
***      Bonus Tip
 
            The Probate Process Takes Time.
 
            In general, the Probate process takes months to complete from beginning to end. 
            It can take up to a year and in some cases longer than a year.  Be prepared for the
            length of time it will take and be patient.
 
 
The Davidson Law Firm, P.C., a Charlotte probate law firm, can help you and your family through the probate process.  Not all estates require a professional to aid in the process, but some estates are complicated and many families don’t have the time to handle the myriad of tasks associated with probating an estate.  Call Charlotte Probate Lawyer, Dave Davidson, today to speak with a Charlotte probate attorney to see how The Davidson Law Firm, P.C. can help you at 704-540-5154.