Following the death of a loved one, it can be very difficult to think about what legal steps need to be taken. While you should absolutely allow yourself time to grieve, it is a good idea to begin handling certain legal matters, including probate, as soon as possible. If you need an experienced probate lawyer to help you throughout the process, please call us at Safe Harbor Wills & Trusts in Syracuse and Watertown. We have been there to advise people during probate, while also helping people write and revise their wills, and protect their assets.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process where a deceased person’s debts are paid and their assets are distributed to their beneficiaries. After someone dies, the executor of their estate will file the deceased’s will with the court. The court then determines whether or not the will is valid (validity is rarely questioned, especially when the will was created by an attorney and updated relatively recently), after which, the deceased’s debts will be settled and their remaining assets distributed according to their wishes as spelled out in the will.

If someone passes away without a will (or without an accurate, up-to-date will), probate becomes much more complicated and time-consuming. Without a will, the court will require a thorough accounting of all of the deceased person’s assets. This can and will take time. After this accounting is complete, then the judge will determine how to pay off any debts and distribute leftover assets. In some cases, this will be simple, but in cases where many family members feel entitled to a part of the estate, the process can drag out for a long time.

Why You Should Hire an Attorney

If you hire an attorney, a lot of these frustrations can be avoided. Attorneys will advocate on your behalf, they can help provide accurate information to the court in order to expedite proceedings, and they can provide you with more information about the overall process.

If you want to help your family members avoid some of the problems with probate, it is a good idea to have an accurate, updated will. In order for your will to be accurate, it needs to take into account any assets you have gained or lost since you wrote the will, and it should accurately reflect your beneficiaries. We advise anyone who has bought or sold a home, gotten married or divorced, or had a child, to update their will.

Contact Safe Harbor Wills & Trusts today for assistance with probate or to create or change a will. We can also help you protect your assets by establishing a trust. Call our offices in Syracuse and Watertown for more information.