Fort Pierce, FL – After someone passes away, their family will try to honor their wishes by having their will go through a process called probate. This procedure can formally review the document and sort through the person’s estate, but there are also issues and problems that can arise. For this reason, anyone who is thinking about end of life issues and estate planning should retain an experienced lawyer who deals with issues such as wills, trusts, and estates for assistance.
What is probate?
Probate court is where a will is executed, so that property and assets can be distributed to the family members and other heirs who are named in the document. Probate courts also have jurisdiction over certain issues such as the person’s debts after they died. It is standard for a probate court to appoint an individual to satisfy the deceased person’s debt, and then pay out what is left of the estate to heirs and relatives as described in the will.
These kinds of courts can also distribute an estate when no will exists according to a set of default rules called intestacy. This normally will give everything that remains of an estate to a close relative such as a spouse, child, parent, or sibling, but going through intestate is usually undesirable because of the lack of control regarding how the assets will be distributed.
Disputes in probate court
There are a number of issues that can happen while a will is in the process of going through probate. One of these is if another person tries to dispute the validity of the will or claim a share of the estate. This is called a will contest. It usually happens when another relative who was disinherited will try to claim that the will being used by the probate court is not really what the deceased person intended, and they may try to present other documents and evidence to make their case. This can be especially litigious if there is a large estate and a relative will not receive any money or assets. In some circumstances, this can draw out the probate process for extra months or years.
Requirements for courts to honor a will
Because of these issues, many states have very formal requirements for what is considered a valid will. Florida is fairly strict in this sense, as handwritten wills and other documents lacking formalities such as disinterested witnesses cannot be accepted as a valid will.
Getting assistance from an attorney who focuses on wills and estate planning
There are some local attorneys in Florida who are available to discuss issues with probate court, wills, and related matters with potential clients. The Estate, Trust, and Elder Law Firm can provide professional advice and guidance throughout the probate process.
Firm contact info:
850 NW Federal Highway, #1004, Stuart, FL 34994