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What to Expect From a Probate Court Hearing

Posted by Dana Law Group on May 5, 2021

When someone passes away and has left assets behind, probate may be required to take care of any loose ends required before the deceased’s assets are distributed. This process can occur whether a person had a last will and testament or not, so it is important when putting your will together to consider that this process may occur following your passing. One of the most important steps in this process is verifying that your will is legitimate so that it may be executed according to your wishes.

How Your Last Will and Testament is Verified

The court will ask that whoever is responsible for executing the last will and testament do so in an expedient manner. This is the first step in the probate process and the executor of the estate will present a death certificate and the will for review. Everyone named as beneficiaries in the will and those who would be deemed heirs in the absence of a will would need to be present for the probate hearing.

At this point, people may have the opportunity to challenge things in the will. One common challenge is who will be appointed as the representative of the estate. This person is who the court will appoint to carry out the instructions of the deceased and distribute the assets left behind to those who are entitled to receive them.

There may be challenges to the probate process itself as well. Someone may be able to provide a more current will than the one that is presented, and it is up to the court to verify which version is valid and legal. For this reason, it is important that when a will is signed, there are witnesses to sign as well. These witnesses will verify the details in the will and their presence when it was signed.

Selecting an Executor of the Estate

If you have written a will prior to your passing, you will have already selected who you wish to be the executor or personal representative of your estate. The court will verify this and consider any challenges before appointing the executor. This executor will then have the authority to begin dispensing assets and acting as the executor of any trusts that you left behind. If one of the beneficiaries is a minor or has special needs, the executor may be instructed to establish trusts to manage the distribution of the assets owed to them.

If someone does not have a will, his or her spouse or adult children will usually be considered to take this role. It is often given to whoever is considered the deceased’s next of kin. Once a representative has been selected, the court will close all other loose ends, such as the collection of taxes and debts on the estate and any disputes between beneficiaries and heirs.

Hidden Assets

Another key purpose of the probate process is to discover whether you have any assets you’ve not disclosed in your will. The executor of your estate will assist the court in finding any hidden assets so that the court can decide how they are to be distributed to those you’ve left behind. This is often the most time-consuming part of the probate process.

Learn More During a Free Consultation

Dana Law Group can help you understand the complexities of estate planning so that you can be assured your wishes are kept. Call us today at 480-924-4557 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. Having your will prepared by someone with experience will help you limit the obstacles your loved ones will face after your death.