How to Navigate the Legal Process of a Will & Testament

When you lose a loved one, it is a difficult time. Not only are you dealing with sorrow and loss, but you may also need to figure out what will happen to the deceased person’s estate. If a will and testament have been left for family members and friends, you may find yourself in the position of figuring out what is supposed to happen to all of the belongings and assets for the deceased. Take a step by step approach to calmly settle the estate and fulfill the final wishes of the person you loved.

Understanding the Probate Process

Once someone has passed away, the probate process begins. This involves taking care of debts, identifying all assets, and distributing the estate to friends and family members. In some cases, an amount may be designated to a charity, a medical center, or hospice. 

If the deceased left a will, an executor needs to oversee the distribution of all belongings or assets to the people specified by the deceased in writing. If there is no will, the estate is usually distributed to the heirs of the deceased. If there are no immediate family members, a search will begin for any relatives. Otherwise, all assets may be turned over to the state.

An Attorney is a Valuable Resource

When it is time to figure out how to handle a will after someone has passed away, a Houston probate lawyer can offer legal advice. You will also benefit from the lawyer’s expertise concerning the probate process. 

The first step will be to review the will. Your probate attorney will make sure it is authentic. Once the will has been verified, it will be time to choose an individual to act as executor of the will. This person is often referred to as a personal representative. 

In most cases, a person’s will specifies who the executor should be. The will is approved by a judge in probate court. The judge usually appoints the executor named in a deceased person’s will. If no executor is named or the person specified in the will does not want to take on this role, the judge will choose an individual to take on this title. It is helpful to have a probate lawyer to take care of all legal documentation concerning a will and estate. The lawyer can also present all information to the probate court.

All Debts Must be Resolved Before the Estate Can be Distributed

Once the executor of the will has been appointed, it will be time to notify all creditors that your loved one has passed away. In some cases, there may be debts that have to be taken care of before anything can be divided between heirs, close friends, and anyone else specified in the will. 

A comprehensive list of assets must be obtained. The total value of all belongings must be tallied up, including bank accounts and the estate itself. A final tax return must be prepared and sent to the Internal Revenue Service. 

Once all these steps have been completed, it will finally be time to determine who will receive what from the deceased’s estate. All financial assets may be split evenly between heirs, such as the spouse, children, and siblings. The entire estate may be left to the spouse or the oldest child. In some cases, a close friend may be named as the sole heir. 

Specific belongings and the home itself may be given to individuals who are specified by a legal and binding document. If a will has been verified and no one can contest it, the wishes of the deceased must be honored.

If you have been given the responsibility of being an executor of an estate, stay calm. Turn to a legal expert to assist you in the process. Accept the support of people who love you. Don’t let yourself become frustrated or caught up in the drama. You have been honored with an important task. You are about to carry out the final wishes of someone you care about deeply. 

With time, patience, and the right people at your side, you will figure out how to tactfully give everyone their due. Stress to each person that they are receiving a blessing from someone they loved.

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