Probate law has to do with the handling of an estate when someone, such as a family member or other loved one, passes away. These are the laws that make sure that the creditors are paid properly and that assets are distributed to the “ heirs,” or the descendant. When you find yourself in a situation where you’ll be dealing with probate law, it’s a good idea to already have in mind what you are going to need to do.
What exactly is Probate? Probate is a legal process that begins with a “petition” (a request) to open the estate and name a personal representative who is responsible for the administration of the deceased’s property. The next step is when an official Notice of Creditors is printed in a local newspaper and Notice of Administration is sent to other involved parties. Creditors then have a set amount of time to file their claims from the first date of publication. Then the personal representative can pay the debt and distribute the remaining estate. Finally, a petition for discharge is filed, and the estate is closed.
While on one hand, this may sound simple, probate law and the handling of estates is in fact a complex system, which presents you with multiple requirements and tasks to be preformed by the personal representative, an experienced attorney and a tax consultant. For example, an estate including only a single house and single bank account that has been left to a single beneficiary will probably be a far easier and quicker process to deal with than an estate containing multiple houses that are located in various states, and that are left to multiple beneficiaries. This becomes especially difficult if an estate includes leaving assets to a minor.
In order to get through the probate process without any hang-ups or snags, you will need to understand how the procedure works. This will allow you to plan ahead, with respect to different tasks that the personal representative handles. If you don’t know much about the probate process, you will want to look for an attorney who does and who can help you with your particular case. You’ll also need to know what a “petition” is, and how it is filed with the court clerk. If your case requires it, you might need to file a formal objection in writing at or before the hearing, which usually means that you have to act fast and get things done quickly, so that you don’t miss important deadlines. Finally, the personal representative, among other things, is responsible for taking the inventory and appraisal of the estate in question, with respect to the probate process. People with experience in matters like these, namely attorneys, often make the process easier and less stressful.
The importance of understanding how probate procedures work is essential to having a successful probate experience. Information explaining the probate process is available to every American citizen through their given state. However, that information is complex and uses a strictly formal language, which makes it very difficult to understand for many people. Deadlines are important factors in the probate process. If deadlines are not met, your case will most likely be delayed and there will be a greater chance that something could go wrong, which is one of the reasons why it’s a good idea to seek legal help. Another factor of the probate process that can be difficult without the help of an attorney, is the writing of formal letters, to which the personal representative is obligated. There are particular formats that are to be followed in accordance with the State of Connecticut; and if they are not, procedures can get held up and end up taking longer than they should or need to.