Probate courts oversee the administration of property after death, guardianships of minors, and conservatorships of incapacitated adults. Our firm's lawyers are experienced in all areas of probate law, and we encourage you to contact us to discuss any probate issues or questions you may have. If you are unsure whether you have a probate issue, read the information below and, if you are still unsure, do not hesitate to contact us.
When someone dies, either with or without leaving a will, there are often estate matters that need to be handled, such as changing title to property and completing tax forms. Probate is when the court supervises the processes that transfer legal title of property from the estate of the person who has died (the "decedent") to his or her beneficiaries. Usually, someone will have to fill out court forms and appear in court to: prove that the will is valid; appoint a legal representative with authority to act on behalf of the decedent; identify and inventory the decedent's property and have it appraised; pay debts and taxes, and distribute the remaining property.
Transferring property when someone dies can be complicated. If someone close to you has recently died, we strongly encourage you to have one of our probate lawyers handle the outstanding legal matters on your behalf, so that you can focus on taking care of your family during its time of loss.
Will contests are challenges to the way property is distributed under a will, and are handled by our probate attorneys as well. Also, if someone who owes you money has died recently, you may have to file a creditor's claim in Probate Court in order to collect your money from the estate. There are very strict time limits on doing this, so you should contact a probate attorney right away if you have a claim against a decedent's estate.
Other matters handled by probate courts are guardianships and conservatorships. If someone close to you is unable to care for him/herself or their property, our probate lawyers can help you establish a conservatorship to ensure the individual is cared for and his or her property is handled competently.
A probate guardianship is where a court appoints an adult, who is not a child's parent, to take care of a child or a child's property. This may be necessary if the child's parents die, or if the child has been abandoned, is not receiving adequate care or is being abused. The Probate Court can only grant a probate guardianship if the child is not involved in a Family Court or Juvenile Court action. A guardian generally has the same responsibilities as a parent, and is responsible for the child's personal needs, including shelter, education and medical care. A guardian may also provide financial management for a child, though sometimes a conservator or guardian of the estate is appointed by the court to do this. The appointment of a guardian does not sever the legal relationship between the child and his or her natural parents. The parents will still be required to provide financial support, and the child will still have rights of inheritance.
If you believe a guardianship or conservatorship of an individual should be established, or if you have will or estate administration questions, do not hesitate to contact our experienced probate lawyers to discuss the situation and available options for handling it.