Our team of lawyers can help with any estate planning needs of our clients including wills, trusts, powers of attorney and other ancillary transfer documents which will provide for a comprehensive estate plan for the end of life needs. In addition, the firm represents executors, trustees, and administrators in probate and trust administrations and also litigates will and trust contests should they arise.
A will is a legal document declaring a decedent’s intentions for who should manage his or her estate after death, and to whom he or she wishes various assets to be given.
Generally, when one leaves a will behind there is little to take through probate. It is often simply a matter of appointing an executor (sometimes called a personal representative) to administer the estate and see to it that the assets and obligations of the estate are handled according to the directions set forth in the will.
However, in some instances, potential heirs or other creditors may challenge the contents of the will, asserting that they are entitled to more than what has been left for them.
Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, resolving all claims against the estate, and distributing the deceased person’s property. If a person dies with a will, these are sometimes called testamentary probate proceedings. If they died without a will, the person is said to have died intestate.
When one dies without leaving a will, the probate court is sometimes called upon to distribute the deceased person’s assets according to state laws. Again, these proceedings are often handled much like bankruptcy cases, with priorities being established and untimely and inferior claims being extinguished by court order.
Preparing or Contesting a Will
A lawyer involved in the practice of preparing or contesting wills is either engaged in preventative care—by drafting a will that reflects the desire of the individual before they die—or representing the interests of a party involved in a will contest or intestate proceeding.
Making important decisions about what happens to your assets after you pass should not be made alone or uninformed. Contact Smith Dollar PC at (707) 522-1100 and learn how our lawyers can help you.