The outcome of each individual probate case varies depending on the assets, beneficiaries, and claims that make up the estate. However, each probate case follows the same general process. Understanding this process is important to anyone with an interest in how the estate assets are distributed.
Probate is often complex, so it is likely in your best interests to speak with a seasoned estate planning lawyer. If you have questions about the Cary probate process, an experienced attorney could advise you on what to expect. Careful preparation is often key to ensuring your rights are protected during this challenging time.
When a person passes away, their family, friends, and legal representative should determine if they had a Will in place. If a valid Will is in existence, the person identified as the executor should file it along with an application in court. This document is known as an application for probate and letters.
If there is no Will in effect, the process is similar but the person seeking to administer the estate must file an application to the court in an effort to be appointed as the personal representative. With or without a Will, along with the application, a death certificate and summary of assets must also be filed with the court. A well-practiced legal advisor could help Cary residents with filing all the appropriate probate and letters applications.
Regardless of whether the person applying is an administrator or executor, the court must ultimately approve of any appointment of a personal representative. Typically, the court recognizes the executor named in a Will in short order. If there is no Will, or if the named executor cannot or will not serve in the role, the court considers a number of individuals for the role of administrator.
First, the court will look to the surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, the court will consider any person named to receive property in the Will, or any person entitled to receive property if there is no Last Will and Testament. In some cases, the court could even allow a creditor of the decedent to open an estate if no other qualifying administrator is available.
Once the personal representative is confirmed by the court, they must provide notice to the decedent’s creditors. This notice must be placed in a newspaper that is “qualified to publish legal advertisements” in the county where the estate is filed.
The personal representative must post this notice once a week for four consecutive weeks, and it must contain a deadline to file a claim that is at least three months from the initial posted notice. Creditors that wish to recover their debts from the estate must file a claim, which the personal representative must pay if they are determined to be valid. However, a skilled attorney in the area could also assist with any litigation involving disputes over these claims.
Once all claims are satisfied, including tax obligations, the personal representative will then disburse the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. If there is a Will, this disbursement will follow the process outlined in that document. If there is no Will, the personal representative must disburse to the heirs as outlined in state law. Any representatives in Cary who are dealing with this stage of the probate process should consult a well-informed lawyer for assistance.
Whether you are an intended beneficiary or the named executor, you may benefit from dedicated legal support and guidance. The Cary probate process can be difficult to understand, but a proficient attorney could advise you on your duties, help oversee the estate, and protect your legal rights. Call today for a meeting with an experienced member of our team.