The probate process can impact an estate’s value

The loss of your loved one is a difficult time. One of the things that might make it a bit harder is if you are having to go through the probate process to handle your loved one’s estate. Of course, even having to go through the probate process is a lot easier than having to handle things if your loved one died intestate.

If you are facing this prospect right now, you should understand the purpose of probate and some of the specifics related to it so that you can make sure you are on top of things.

Two types of probate cases

There are two types of probate cases that can occur. One of these is the uncontested probate case, which means that nobody who is entitled to part of the estate has an issue with the way that the decedent wants things to be distributed or handled. These cases typically go much faster than the other type of probate case.

The other type of probate case is a contested one. These cases involve a person claiming that the will or the conditions of the estate aren’t correct. These claims can be made for reasons such as claiming someone had undue influence on the decedent when that person was creating the estate plan. This process is sometimes associated with people who were disinherited.

Key points of probate

There are several things that happen during the probate process. It is usually guided by the person whom the decedent named as the executor or administrator of the estate. The probate process including filing the will with the court, finding assets, reviewing trusts, locating heirs and transferring property to the rightful parties.

There are some other facets as well. During the probate process, the decedent’s bills are handled. If the estate is large enough, the bills are paid in full. If the estate isn’t large enough to cover all of the bills, the bills are paid in a specific order that is in accordance with the law. Of course, bill payments do shrink the size of the estate, so heirs might not get what they expected.

If you are responsible for making sure the probate matters are handled appropriately, you might need to learn even more about the process. Seek out answers to questions that pertain to your case so that you have factual information on which to base decisions.

Wills and addressing undue influence

On this blog, we have covered many of the reasons why wills may be disputed, from wills that have been lost to insufficient mental capacity. However, undue influence is another reason why wills are disputed. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, our Queens law firm can sympathize with families who are going through a bitter will dispute. Sadly, disagreements over a will can make life even harder for those who are already dealing with strong emotions after their loved one passed away.

If you have been accused of undue influence, you need to carefully examine the relevant details of the situation. Being accused of manipulating a loved one who was vulnerable can be incredibly painful, especially if the accusations are completely false. During this challenging time, you must try to stay level-headed and do everything in your power to have the truth revealed in court. On the other hand, you may suspect that someone exerted undue influence over your loved one, such as coercing them into making certain changes to the will. If you firmly believe that this occurred, you should not hesitate to work towards a possible solution.

Unfortunately, will disputes can create a tremendous amount of friction within families, especially for those who are already on edge after losing someone who was close. As a result, you should attempt to reduce emotional conflict, if possible. On our page which is centered around contesting the will, you can go over more info on undue influence  and other topics related to this area of law.

Setting up a special needs trust

When it comes to estate planning, you may have a number of choices to consider. However, it is important to assess your individual situation and move forward with a plan that will work out best for your circumstance. For example, if you are disabled, or your loved one has a disability, you may want to look into a special needs trust. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, we know how confusing estate issues can be for people in Jamaica, and all across New York.

Special needs trusts can be advantageous for a variety of reasons. If you are disabled and have assets that interfere with your ability to receive government benefits, a special needs trust could allow you to remain eligible for these benefits. However, it is essential to carefully examine your different options before making a decision.

Special needs trusts and all other types of trusts may offer additional benefits, as well. By setting up a trust, you can secure your assets and help make sure that they are managed according to your wishes after you pass away. By establishing an effective trust, you may also be able to enjoy greater peace of mind.

For families, the loss of a loved one can be especially challenging and, in some cases, can even lead to a contentious dispute. However, trusts can help alleviate these difficulties. If you browse over to our estate administration page, you can read more information that is related to special needs trusts and other considerations concerning this area of law.

What happens to a person’s debts after they pass away?

If you are toiling in debt or a loved one is dealing with similar circumstances, a pressing question may be: “what happens to my debt when I pass away?” One would think that the debt would be extinguished with the person as they pass away. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as some creditors will go to great lengths to collect on debt they are owed.

In fact, it is fairly common for creditors to come calling for payment from those who have passed away; especially if the person has an insurance policy or assets that could be sold to pay off debt. But most importantly, creditors are allowed under state law to collect their debts from a valid estate.

Executors can be overwhelmed and frustrating by an avalanche of claims, even though the payment of debts is a common part of the probate process. It may be difficult to know whether a creditor is genuine or has a legitimate claim against the estate. After all, how are you to tell whether a bill is valid or if property taxes are properly owed? Remember, unscrupulous creditors don’t care about your grief or whether they can prove their claim is valid. An executor may need assistance in verifying claims from unpaid civil judgments and other payments owed under existing contracts.

If you think a creditor’s claim is not valid, an experienced estate administration attorney can help you understand the legal defenses available to you and whether a creditor is likely to succeed.

The preceding is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. 

Ensuring your will is valid

if you are preparing to create a will, you could have a myriad of uncertainties and may be stressed out. However, you could find peace of mind and put your concerns to ease by making sure that you work through the process of setting up a will appropriately. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, our New York law firm knows how important it is for people who draft wills to make sure that the wills are valid.

When creating a will, you should always keep an eye out for fraud and you should also know what constitutes undue influence. Your will may be disputed if fraud is suspected, such as a person lying to you so that you include them in your will. Undue influence consists of someone forcing a person to include something for them in the will, which otherwise would not have happened. People who are thinking about setting up a will should also make sure they have the mental capacity to do so. Furthermore, you may want to look into having witnesses who can testify that your mind was sound when you set up your will.

Regrettably, some people have wills that are ultimately deemed invalid, which can cause friction in the family and result in assets being distributed in a manner that is against what the decedent would have wanted. If you head over to our contesting the wills page, you can read more information about undue influence , inadequate mental capacity and other topics related to will disputes.

The consequences of not having an estate plan

From busy schedules to anxiety about death and simply failing to understand the importance of a will or trust, there are many reasons why people do not have estate plans. However, this could lead to a number of consequences later on. If you live in Jamaica, New York, or another U.S. city, it is essential to understand why estate plans are so crucial and you may want to create one as soon as possible. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, we also know how helpful estate plans can be for people who are younger.

By failing to have an estate plan, you or your loved ones may encounter various challenges. While some people feel uneasy about their own death, it may be even more challenging for them to think of the difficulties their family members may face if they pass away with no estate plan. However, these hardships can be avoided or minimized by simply planning ahead. In fact, many people find peace of mind after working through these matters.

Without an estate plan, assets may not be distributed in accordance with your wishes and your property may also be subjected to harsher tax penalties. In addition to the potential financial consequences associated with a lack of estate planning, your family may disagree over certain estate-related matters, which could result in a harsh dispute. Sadly, these disagreements can split entire families apart.

If you visit our estate administration section, you can review more information concerning death with no will  and related topics.