There are certain subjects many people feel uncomfortable talking about, including death and wills. No one wants to think about it, but death is inevitable for all of us. As we age, these are things we begin to consider more, because it makes sense to prepare as much as we can to help protect and support the loved ones we leave behind. Some people don’t want to think ahead, and end up passing away without ever having written a will. In such cases, the decedent is said to have died “intestate,” therefore requiring a court-appointed legal representative that serves as the distributor of assets. In other situations, a deceased person’s will may be challenged by a family member in court. Perhaps that individual feels the will was written under duress or while the deceased was incapacitated, and that is why they want to have the will declared invalid. These types of complex scenarios are cases heard in probate court. If you or a loved one is dealing with a similar matter, it is best to consult a probate attorney. This area of law can be quite technical and tricky. Due to the emotional and personal nature of probate cases, there are a few important facts you should know before you consult a lawyer:
1) Find out if a will exists. Was it signed, dated, and notarized? If you’re unclear on what a will actually is, nolo.com defines it as “A document in which the will maker specifies who is to receive his or her property at death and names an executor. To be valid, a will must be signed by the person who made it (called the testator), dated, and witnessed by two people.” http://www.nolo.com/dictionary/will-term.html
2) Generally, wills are legal and binding documents. If one is signed by a person sound in mind, it would be difficult to refute it. It would only be wise to challenge a will if you suspect your family member was forced to sign it, another person forged the will, or the signer was mentally incapacitated.
3) In some cases an inheritance tax may be required after a decedent’s assets have been distributed. A probate attorney will help you determine if taxes are required.
In summary, there are a lot of complicated terms used when dealing with probate cases. If you live Downriver and need assistance in this area, Downriver Lawyer is your #1 Probate Legal Team. We are experts in probate law, and will handle your case with care and consideration.
For a confidential, free consultation call 734-619-1237. To learn more about our legal services, check out our website at: www.downriverlawyer.com.