A will contest can result in a significant delay in the distribution of a loved one's assets, and can also be expensive. The costs of a will contest are paid out of the estate, which may significantly deplete the available funds. If you are concerned that a will may be subject to a will contest, contact our firm to schedule a consultation with an experienced probate and estate administration attorney.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Probate and Estate Administration
Q: What is probate?
A: In general, probate is the court procedure by which a will's validity is proved, assets collected, creditors paid and the remaining assets distributed to beneficiaries under the will.
Q: What is a will contest?
A: A will contest is a legal action that challenges the validity of a will and/or the terms of the will. Will contests typically involve allegations that a will was inadequately executed, invalidated by a later will or was the result of forgery or undue influence.
Probate and Estate Administration - An Overview
Estate administration refers to the process of probating the estate of a decedent, which generally includes collecting, inventorying and appraising assets; paying and collecting debts; filing and paying estate taxes; and distributing any remaining assets to beneficiaries. An experienced probate and estate administration attorney from Greenfield Stein & Senior, LLP in New York, NY, can help simplify this complicated process. If you need help in the administration of an estate, call Greenfield Stein & Senior, LLP today.
The Probate Process
Probate is the court process used to determine the validity of a will and oversee the payment of creditors and distribution of estate assets. Even if there is no valid will at the time of death, the estate will still go through the probate procedure. Since probate is regulated by state laws, there are specific procedures prescribed by each state for carrying out the process.
Role of the Executor
An executor is the person named by the creator of the will (the testator) to carry out the terms and provisions of the will. In addition to locating important documents and notifying Social Security, pension providers, annuity providers and other entities of the death, the executor has numerous other legal responsibilities.
Assets disposed of outside the probate process are part of the non-probate estate. Because a probate proceeding is not required, these assets are distributed more quickly to the appropriate beneficiaries. Many people seek out these assets and ownership models to save their loved ones from the difficulties associated with going through probate.
The fact that a person leaves a will does not guarantee that her or his property will be distributed according to the will's terms. A court generally must provide an opportunity to allow others to object to the will, and a legal challenge, called a will contest, may be brought by anyone with an interest in the will who believes it is invalid.
Probate and Estate Administration Resource Links
Uniform Probate Code Locator
Maintained by Cornell University Law School, this site identifies the states that have adopted, at least in part, the Uniform Probate Code. Links are also provided to each state's version of the code.
This page is maintained by the H.E.L.P. organization, and provides an overview of the executor's, personal representatives', and trustee's estate administration responsibilities.
SmartMoney® Estate Planning
Provides information to consumers on the process of gathering information and documentation for estate planning.
AARP® Estate Planning Page
This resource, provided by AARP®, includes articles discussing a variety of estate planning matters.
Estate Tax Calculator
An online estate tax calculator.