Happy family giving children piggy back ridsIf you have recently lost a loved one, you may feel overwhelmed by all of the questions coming your way. Did your loved one have a will or trust? If so, who has access to those documents? Who is responsible for making sure all of the bills are paid? Depending on your situation, there may also be conflicts among family members about how to distribute your loved one’s property and assets. Even if your loved one left a will, you may still find yourself involved in the probate process.

Probate can be complicated and time-consuming. If you are working full-time or taking care of your children or other family members, you may not have the ability to handle all of the details yourself. Here are three ways an experienced probate attorney can help you through the process:

Explaining the Probate Process

If you have never been involved in a probate case, you may not understand exactly what is involved. That is where an experienced probate attorney can help. Probate is the legal process through which the individual’s property and assets are distributed. Even if your loved one left a will, there are still legal steps that must be taken to make sure the assets and property are distributed according to the will. If your loved one did not have a will, the probate process becomes more complicated. An experienced probate attorney can guide you along the way and help keep things on track.

Gathering Necessary Information

When it comes to probate, having accurate information is critical. The size of the estate can impact the complexity of the probate process. An experienced attorney can help you figure out whether your loved one’s estate qualifies for a more simple process. The first thing you will need to do is create an inventory of the estate. Once you have an inventory of all of the property and assets, as well as an estimate of the remaining bills that need to be paid, you can estimate the size of the estate.

If the estate is small, the assets and property can be passed on to the surviving spouse or beneficiaries. The estate is considered small if the gross estate value is fifteen thousand dollars or less. Michigan law (MCL 700.3987) also allows for immediate distribution of an estate if it meets the following criteria:

“If it appears from the inventory and appraisal that the value of the entire estate, fewer liens, and encumbrances, does not exceed administration costs and expenses, reasonable funeral and burial expenses, homestead allowance, family allowance, exempt property, and reasonable, necessary medical and hospital expenses of the decedent’s last illness, the personal representative, without giving notice to creditors, may immediately disburse and distribute the estate to the persons entitled to the estate and may file a closing statement.”

An experienced probate attorney can help you assign the proper value to the estate and determine whether you can avoid the complexities of probate court.

Saving You Time and Money

The probate process can be costly and time-consuming. You must pay fees to the executor of the estate, as well as the probate court. And if there are conflicts among the beneficiaries, you can end up paying additional legal fees and court costs. An experienced probate attorney can help you avoid probate altogether, or minimize the length of the probate process. If there are disputes among family members, your attorney can help to reach an agreement without going to court. With the right guidance, the probate process will be smooth and easy, minimizing the costs to the estate.

Probate can be an efficient process if you understand the law and avoid common mistakes that can cost you time and money. With a knowledgeable and experienced probate lawyer on your side, you will be able to honor your loved one’s wishes and get through probate as quickly as possible.