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The Probate Process: Beneficiary Disputes

Oftentimes, a person isn’t even aware of what a probate lawyer does until he or she is in need of one. Of course, is a great idea to hire a probate lawyer before you actually “need” his or her services so things can go as smoothly as possible when it comes to taking an estate through the probate process.

Unfortunately, that’s not always how it works. It’s very common to go looking for a probate lawyer in Ohio or Kentucky once a loved one has passed and help is needed immediately. This becomes especially important in situations where there a dispute arises amongst beneficiaries.

The Probate Process

The probate lawyer’s job is to offer assistance as an estate passes through the court system in order for it to be distributed properly. There are several steps that the court must go through to close an estate, and the attorney’s job is to make sure everything is initiated and followed through on as these steps are being followed.

Some of the basics of probate include:

  • Validating the will
  • Creating an inventory of assets
  • Getting appropriate appraisals for assets
  • Creating a list of debts
  • Paying debts
  • Dispersing the remaining property according to the will

If there is no will, the estate is said to be “in testate,” and the court will have even more say in what becomes of the decedent’s property.

When You Need a Probate Lawyer in Ohio and Kentucky

Not every estate needs a probate lawyer. Some families have placed their assets into trusts that actually don’t go through the probate process, for example. Additionally, some wills are very simple and easy to execute, such as in a case where there are little to no debts and common property is left to a surviving spouse alone.

In most other cases, however, hiring a probate lawyer in Ohio or Kentucky will simplify the process for all involved and will most likely save the estate a fair amount of money. That is because the attorney will be able to implement strategies to help lower the amount of taxes that need to be paid.

He or she can also become an objective outside party who can act as the executor of the will in situations where family tensions run high. Conflicts over the division of assets can tear a family apart. Often times, beneficiaries of an estate disagree about a number of issues, including the interpretation of a will or trust, the testator’s intent, and the distribution of assets. If someone with a legal financial interest in the estate wants to contest the will, it makes sense to have a probate attorney working to make sure the decedent’s wishes are carried out to the best of the court’s ability.

It can also be a good idea to get a probate lawyer involved in cases where an individual has a terminal illness. The attorney can help to get affairs in order by drawing up a will and understanding first-hand what it is that the person wants for the estate.

What Our Probate Lawyers Will Do

There are several tasks that our probate lawyers will perform on behalf of the estate:

  • Locating an original will if one exists
  • Locating and securing both probate and non-probate assets
  • Obtaining date of death values and appraisals of all of the decedent’s property
  • Collecting life insurance proceeds
  • Advising on the payment of the decedent’s final bills and outstanding debts
  • Determining if any estate and gift taxes will be due and, if so, figuring out where the cash will come from to pay the taxes
  • Addressing income tax issues
  • Settling disputes among Personal Representatives/Executors and among beneficiaries
  • Assisting with the sale of estate property
  • Retitling the decedent’s assets into the names of the estate beneficiaries
  • Preparing and filing all documents required by the probate court in a timely manner

Our probate lawyers keep current on relevant Ohio and Kentucky laws as they change. Whether you’re in Dayton, Ohio, Lexington, Kentucky, or anywhere in between, we will work to help clients and heirs follow all of the right procedures while doing their best to protect their interests.

To schedule a free consultation to discuss these issues with an estate planning attorney, contact Wiggins & Hall Law Group, LLC at (937) 612-2046 (Ohio), (859) 469-1955 (Kentucky), or fill out a free online case evaluation form.