Probate Lawyers in Strathmore, AB, Handling Probate with Ease
While “being stuck in probate” is a common complaint that has a lot of families rightfully cautious, it exists for a reason–several, actually;
- To verify the authenticity of a Last Will and Testament or other estate plan documents;
- To notify creditors and provide them with the opportunity to file claims against the state for owed debts;
- To transfer assets to the correct heirs or beneficiaries;
- To pay gift and estate tax the estate may still owe;
- To identify, locate, and secure the decedent’s assets;
- To disperse or pay any income or debts the estate has received or accrued after the decedent has passed;
- To allow time for any challenges or litigation to be levied against the legitimacy of the decedent’s will;
- To pay final income taxes for the decedent and the estate.
While many of these things may seem dissatisfying and downright distasteful to some, they would surely agree that it is all better dealt with as soon as possible rather than popping up several years down the road when accounting errors are noticed.
Probate lawyers, like the ones at Getz Collins and Associates, will help walk you through the process if you are stuck in it. Or, if you’d prefer to keep your family out of the ordeal, ask to speak with one of our estate planning lawyers. Just call 403-934-2500 for a consultation today.
What Is The Probate Administration Process?
First, There Has to Be an Initial Appointment:
Once the proper court receives a petition for probate, the process begins.
At this point, the court appoints a representative for the estate. If the decedent left a will, that person would act as an “executor;” if there is no will in place, they work as an “administrator.”
The executor or administrator must be someone who holds legal priority or be nominated by someone who does. Typically, that means the person is named executor within the will’s text, was named the legal heir, or is a creditor of the estate (usually in that order of precedence).
Next, the Property is Collected and Evaluated:
A probate referee, appointed by the court, evaluates all of the decedent’s non-liquid property (real estate, heirlooms, etc.) and files that information with the court. To do so, they must assemble a detailed stock of the decedent’s personal property. This should include
- Checking and savings accounts, money market accounts, or CDs
- Partnerships, corporations, LLCs, or other business interests
- Copyrights, patents, trademarks, or other intellectual property
- Life insurance, disability insurance, annuities, or different types of insurance policies
- Brokerage accounts, margin accounts, IRAs, health savings accounts, and college savings accounts
- Personal residences, investment properties, or other real estate properties
- Heirlooms, collectibles, antiques, or other personal effects
- Household items
Once the court determines the overall value, and the executor/administrator can choose to liquidate the assets if everyone entitled to the property is notified and has had a chance to stake a claim.
After That, Debts are Settled, and Taxes are Paid
Creditors who may have a claim on the estate or portions thereof are notified upon the granting of probate. They then have four months to claim their payment, after which the executor/administrator must file the decedent and the estate’s final tax returns.
Finally, The Distribution of Assets;
Once the estate’s valuables have been counted and assessed, once all liabilities have been charged, the executor/administrator of the estate may request that the court order the distribution of the remainder to the beneficiaries.
What Happens After The Probate Petition Is Filed?
After the process begins, the executor may be required to do any or all of the following steps:
- Create an exhaustive inventory of the deceased person’s real estate and personal property. An inventory should include:
- Private Residences, Investment Properties
- Personal Effects
- Accounts: Checking, Savings, Money-Market, or CDs
- Business Interests (Partnerships, Corporations, LLCs)
- Intellectual Property
- Insurances: Life, Disability, Annuities, etc.
- Brokerage, Margin, Health Savings, College Savings, or IRA Accounts
- File for enough death certificates to satisfy each organization requesting one: Social Security, banks, creditors, life insurance policies, etc.
- Appraise the decedent’s property or have it appraised
What If The Deceased Did Not Have A Will?
Intestacy occurs when an individual dies and leaves behind no will. The state is referred to as an “intestate estate.” If a will is present, but all of the decedent’s assets are not correctly listed, it is referred to as a partial intestacy.
Laws can differ from province to province, so it is crucial that any executor/administrator works with a local lawyer familiar with that province’s laws.
Where Does the Probate Lawyer Come into Play?
Proper probate administration begins the moment a person passes away, regardless of the presence of a will. The probate lawyer will read and distribute the assets as the will gives or work alongside the courts to follow the state law to which beneficiaries get assets. The probate lawyer’s main job during the process is to assist and guide the executioner/administrator through probate or become the executioner/administrator themselves.
What’s the Difference Between a Probate Lawyer and an Estate Planning Lawyer?
With a genuine attempt not to take the subject of a loved one’s death too lightly, the difference between an estate planning lawyer and a probate lawyer boils down to timing. Are we pre-planning or post-mortem? An estate planning lawyer helps a person figure out their last will, and a probate lawyer allows their family to carry out those wishes properly. The two can overlap, but not often; however, the exact lawyer may hold both positions. An estate planning lawyer familiar with the family may often act as the probate lawyer after the decedent is gone.
What Are The Responsibilities Of A Probate Lawyer?
A probate lawyer will assist an executor/administrator in the following duties or perform them themselves:
- Locating, securing, and evaluating a decedent’s assets
- Finding and collecting insurance policies
- Appraising a decedent’s assets or subjecting them to appraisal
- Managing the finances of the estate during the process
- Determining debt validity and advising payments
- Filing required court documents
- Securing tax accounts or working with accountants during the final income tax filing
In the presence of a will, the lawyer may consult the executor/administrator during paperwork and asset distribution, among other things. For example, someone must validate changes to the will (even pre-mortem). If there is a challenge to the will, separate probate lawyers will represent the will as written and the challenger.
In a will’s absence, the probate lawyer will assist the executor/administrator. However, in this case, the probate lawyer will be bound to follow the intestate laws of the province in which the estate resides. Court issues during claims or challenges to the law will be between probate lawyers representing each side of the problem.
To ensure that your family has the right probate lawyer OR estate planning lawyer by their side, call the offices of Getz Collins and Associates today at (587) 802-3817.