Probate is the method by which assets not otherwise distributed in the estate planning process are passed from one generation to the next. These proceedings can take many forms: Probate may involve distributing large estates where litigation is expected, or it may only require winding up a loved one’s affairs after they pass away.
While all probates run through similar processes to meet obligations imposed by the law, there are frequently challenging legal and practical issues that present themselves during the course of administering an estate. Our skilled and experienced Rock Island probate lawyer can help you efficiently navigate these obstacles. Greenwood Law is proud to help families get through these difficult moments by offering quality, tailored legal guidance. If you have been named as the personal representative of your deceased loved one’s estate, we can walk you through your responsibilities and assist you with carrying them out. We can also provide advice and representation to other interested parties who need help understanding their rights, obligations, and options.
As a veteran-owned law firm, we are proud to offer discounts to retired and active military service members, disabled veterans, and union members. Call (309) 790-7003 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.
When someone passes away, their heirs cannot immediately inherit property left to them, even if they are listed as beneficiaries in the deceased’s will. Their estate must first be settled in the eyes of the state government. (Note that assets placed in a trust are exempt from probate and can be transferred at any time per trust instructions.)
First, the deceased person’s loved ones will need to locate the will, which should specify a preferred personal representative. The named personal representative should petition the applicable court to initiate probate.
If there is no will, or if the requested personal representative is unavailable or unwilling, another family member or interested party will need to start the process. The court will appoint an alternate personal representative in these scenarios.
Once the court has granted the personal representative authority over the deceased’s estate, they will be required to:
- Notify heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors of the death and consequent proceedings
- Locate, inventory, appraise, and protect estate assets
- Review and resolve outstanding debts
- File and pay the decedent’s taxes
- Represent the estate in any claims
- Distributing assets per the will’s instructions (or the state’s intestacy laws)
The scale and complexity of these responsibilities can be immense, especially if the chosen personal representative has limited legal and financial experience. Our Rock Island probate attorney can assist personal representatives with all aspects of estate administration. If the deceased left behind a small estate or implemented other estate planning tools, we work to identify and implement ways to accelerate the probate process whenever possible.
How Will Contests Work
One of the most common probate complications is a will contest. Assets cannot be distributed until these lawsuits are resolved.
Any interested party – an heir, beneficiary, creditor, family member, or anyone who would be affected by the outcome of the conflict – has the right to challenge the entered will on certain grounds. An interested party cannot contest a will simply because they are dissatisfied with their inheritance (or lack thereof).
An interested party can challenge a will on one of several grounds, including:
- Improper Execution
- Undue Influence
- Lack of Capacity
- Ignorance of the Contents of the Document
At Greenwood Law, our Rock Island probate lawyer is prepared to represent personal representatives who are facing a will contest. We can also help interested parties understand their legal options if they have reason to believe a will is invalid or unenforceable.