A Guide to Probate Law

Money matters are delicate, which calls for adequate and proper rules to govern them or the fiber of our society can fall apart. There are laws which define the rights of people over their financial assets when they are alive and what should happen to their net worth after their death. When a person dies, every Tom, Dick, and Harry may want a slice of the assets owned by the deceased person. This is where probate law steps in as the ball falls in the probate court which decides on the disbursement and management of the assets of the deceased person.

The Process

To begin the process you have to file a petition in a probate court, and the court will access the validity of the will. If the will is valid the courts supervises and does the distribution act. But before that, all those mentioned in the will have to be notified through mails or any other effective methods, informing them of the impending probate hearings. Then a public announcement through a local newspaper of the city is necessary to inform creditors to put in their claims. And then the court sets up the date for a probate hearing where it appoints an executor.

Where There Is a Will

If a person dies leaving a will, things are less complicated and no mustards to grind for the probate court. It can be a simple process to get hold of an executor or a personal representative (PR) who administers the execution of the will in the spirit stated in the will. But things can turn complicated, when dissatisfied heirs express dissatisfaction that they have been handed a raw deal. Or creditors may move in with IOUs, that is the time when probate court have to probe deeper in probate law to ascertain the validity of their claims, and decides who gets what.

Intestate Proceedings

The level of complexity rises when the person dies without a valid will, that is when the importance of probate law is felt all the more for proper distribution of the assets. Creditors should be notified to raise their red flags and put forth their claims in the court if any, and the courts decide their validity. Though laws may vary among different states, but the general standard is that after the creditors are satisfied, the chunk of the share goes to the spouses, children come second in line, followed by other close family members.

Uniform Probate Code

At times the complexity reaches new heights when state laws appear to conflict with each other, especially if the assets are scattered over different states. To deal with such challenging scenarios, US lawmakers have come up with the answer in form of Uniform Probate Code. Though it is not mandatory for different states to implement it, but many states have adopted it or at least some portion of it. Hence to steer clear of catch-22, these codes bring in some sanity and uniformity between contradictory laws of different jurisdictions.