Probate refers to the legal distribution of property after the death of a property owner. Probate customs and laws have changed with time; however, the principle of its purpose remains the same regarding current laws. Through the statement of a will, a person can make formal declarations of their intentions concerning the transference of property after they die. When the person dies, their property is gathered, any debts are paid and property is disseminated to loved ones.
Typically, a person decides to leave property to family members and/or friends, and lists designations in a will. In some situations, a person’s wishes are overridden by the court due to state laws. For example, most state laws give property rights to the spouse of the deceased. If the person grants ownership of a house to a sibling instead of the spouse, the court may rule in the spouse’s favor.
Additionally, some laws may grant creditors the right to a claim on the deceased estate. Based on the jurisdiction, creditors may have a time frame to present claims. If an estate is complex with a substantial amount of assets, the probate process could take a long time.
What Happens During the Probate Process?
Generally, the probate process may involve uncontested or contested issues. A majority of probated estates are uncontested. Contested issues usually contested stem from a disgruntled heir who wants a larger share of the estate. Common arguments include improper influence over the deceased in making gifts; insufficient mental capacity; and, inadequate legal formalities when the will was drafted.
Basically, the probate process will proceed in the following order:
• Collection of probate property belonging to the deceased
• Payment of taxes, debts and claims on the estate
• Collection of income and dividend rights
• Dispute settlements
• Distribution of remaining property to heirs
Often, the deceased has named an executor to manage their estate. If, however, an executor is not named, the court will appoint an administrator to fulfill the duties.
How a Probate Attorney Can Help
As previously stated, most probated estates are not contested. However, you might feel better about hiring a probate attorney to help you through what could be a confusing process. Finding an attorney during this time is not difficult. Selecting one who is professional and understands your situation could be a challenge.
You might need to make decisions that could have significant consequences while facing legal proceedings. The help of experienced legal professionals from a Cedar Rapids law firm can make a difficult process easier to manage.
Probate attorneys in Iowa work closely with families after the death of a loved one to ensure assets are distributed properly and fairly. Long, drawn out battles can erupt into unsettling fights over assets. By hiring a probate attorney, you can protect your inheritance and reduce unnecessary fees and taxes.
You are not left to navigate the probate process alone. Typically, probate attorneys in Iowa manage the legal process of probate issues in court. They will guide you through to complex maze of legal terminology that could impact your life. These attorneys will handle endless paperwork, court filings, asset inventory, etc., to ensure your loved one’s estate is settled according to his or her wishes.
When you hire a Cedar Rapids law firm to handle the probate process, you want to consider several things:
• Hire a legal professional who specializes in probate law. This also requires selecting an attorney who understands local and county laws throughout Iowa.
• Ask about recommendations the attorney could make regarding minimizing tax payments and preventing or reducing fraudulent claims. The attorney should be prepared to take necessary steps to verify whether creditors’ claims are justified. Otherwise, you may endure an unnecessarily extended waiting game.
• Find out the attorney’s fees upfront and get it in writing. Some attorneys charge a percentage of what you receive from the estate after the probate process. Others may charge a flat fee for the entire process.
Finally, hire a probate attorney that you can trust. You will feel more comfortable about sharing sensitive family details. Meet with several attorneys before making a final decision about giving them complete access to your loved one’s estate.