When someone dies in Manalapan Township, the state often requires their assets to be transferred through a legal process known as probate, regardless of the status of their will. This procedure was designed to ensure that creditors receive amounts they are owed, that a will is valid, and that assets are passed in accordance with legal requirements.

The process of guiding an estate through probate can be complicated so many administrators and executors choose to work with a Manalapan Township probate lawyer. A trusts and estates lawyer familiar with the probate process could ensure that all legal obligations are fulfilled.

Everyone Has an Estate

Under the law, everyone has an estate because an estate is simply the legal term describing a person’s assets and liabilities. An estate may include real property such as a house, or personal property such as a car, jewelry, and money in bank accounts. An estate may include intellectual property such as a patent and rights or licenses held by a person. The value of an estate is calculated by totaling assets and subtracting amounts owed such as credit card debts.

Although everyone has an estate, not every estate will need to goes through the probate process. A Manalapan Township probate lawyer could review a situation to determine whether probate is necessary, and if so, whether an estate may be eligible to use simplified procedures.

A Court-Appointed Administrator or Executor

One of the first parts of the probate process involves the appointment of an executor or administrator to oversee the process of paying bills and distributing assets. If the decedent left a will, the executor would be named in that document, and that person should go to court to be formally appointed. If there is no will or the person named declines to serve, then the court will appoint an administrator who is often a surviving spouse or domestic partner.

The executor or administrator usually works with a Manalapan Township probate lawyer with matters such as:

  • Inventory of assets
  • Appraisal of necessary assets
  • Payment of debts
  • Calculation and payment of taxes
  • Distribution of assets and trusts according to the will or the laws of intestate succession

If there is not enough money in the estate to pay all outstanding debts, the claims must be satisfied according to detailed state law which prioritizes debts.  Amounts will be distributed to beneficiaries only after all debts are paid, including taxes. A probate lawyer may assist with the process of notifying creditors, prioritizing debts, and calculating inheritance taxes, income taxes, and estate taxes.

What is the Benefit of Hiring a Probate Attorney?

There are many ways an appointed executor could benefit from the skilled
representation of a probate attorney while administrating an estate. Whether
someone is the executor or beneficiary of an estate, the benefit of having legal
counsel is considerable. In the case of an executor, an attorney could help them
identify and appraise the decedent’s assets, ensure that all documentation is
submitted to the presiding judge, and help make certain that the administration of
the estate is in accordance with the state’s probate laws.

An executor is not the only party who may benefit from a lawyer’s help during the
probate process. Sometimes, disputes arise during probate from parties who have
an interest in the disbursement of the estate. An attorney could also assist the
decedent’s named beneficiaries in responding to or navigating any challenges that
may arise during probate.

How Long Does Probate Usually Take?

The length of probate depends on a number of elements. The complexity of the
estate is a significant factor in the duration of the probate process. It is essential to
remember that any outstanding creditor claims or debts must be satisfied and taxes
paid before the remainder of the decedent’s assets can be distributed to their
beneficiaries. Numerous documents must be filed with the court, and the whole of
the decedent’s assets must be located and appraised.

Whether or not anyone contests the will or other estate document could also impact
how long the probate process takes. Barring any unforeseen challenges, many
probate cases may resolve in less than year. However, if the will is contested, the
process could take a year or longer.

What Are Some Common Challenges that Arise During Probate in
Manalapan Township?

These matters are hard to predict. Some probate cases go relatively smoothly.
However, it is not uncommon for an interested party or beneficiary to challenge
some aspect of the estate such as the will. Dealing with creditors and navigating
the complex tax requirements of administering an estate could pose distinct
challenges. Working with a committed local probate attorney could help executors
navigate this difficult process.

Work with a Knowledgeable Manalapan Township Probate Attorney

Executors and administrators may be held personally liable if they fail to fulfill their duties properly, so it is important to ensure that those responsible for administering an estate understand what needs to be done. Advice from a knowledgeable Manalapan Township probate lawyer might prevent problems and provide resolution if any issues should arise. To learn more about how a trust and estates attorney could assist in your situation, call now for a consultation.