The death of a spouse is a difficult time in our lives. There are many things that must be done, including the administration of the decedent’s estate. This must be done regardless of whether the decedent had a will or not. Hiring an attorney to guide the probate process is essential. In fact, an attorney can handle most aspects of the probate process, allowing the personal representative (usually you), to focus on other important things.
There are different types of probate administration. This is the process by which a person’s estate is resolved. A qualified attorney will be able to determine which type is right for the decedent’s estate based on the estate’s value considering certain available exemptions. The exemptions include homestead property, exempt personal property up to a certain amount, and a statutory allowance for the surviving spouse (what the survivor automatically gets).
The standard probate administration is known as formal administration. Formal administration is the most lengthy probate process and is required for estates in excess of $75,000.00. This type of administration typically takes 5 or 6 months to complete. However, creditor claims (people the decedent owed money to) or will contests can lengthen this time period.
For estates worth less than $75,000.00, summary administration is available. Summary administration is a much quicker process and can typically be accomplished in 60 days or less. Many of the requirements of a formal administration are not required in a summary proceeding.
The administration of an estate can be tricky. There are requirements that must be followed throughout the process. Failure to follow the law could result in financial liability for the personal representative or the beneficiaries. However, a lawyer will be able to efficiently and effectively get the job done. Always contact an attorney for guidance in the probate process. What you will save in time and money will more than make it worthwhile to have an attorney’s assistance.
By: T.R. Smith, Esq.
Peter Mackey, Esq.