After someone passes away, their estate usually goes through probate, which is uncharted waters for most people. When navigating the potentially rough waters of Alabama probate courts, it helps to understand how it all works.
Assessing the Situation
Did the person who just passed away leave an estate plan? Hopefully, the answer is yes. It’s also best if the family knows where the original Will is stored, who the personal representative will be, and the name of the attorney who prepared it.
Filing with the Court
If there is a Will, someone will present it to the probate court, along with petition to start the probate case. Note that the Will must be filed with the court within five years after the testator’s death. Also, probate is usually handled in the county where the deceased person lived at the time of death.
The court will decide who will probate the decedent’s estate. Typically, it is the personal representative named in the Will.
If there’s no Will, a person interested in the estate will petition the court to name a personal representative.
The Personal Representative
Also known as an executor, the personal representative handles the administration of the deceased person’s estate. This includes identifying and locating all of the decedent’s assets and gathering valid claims against the estate.
Estate administration can be difficult, depending on the value of the estate and the type of probate assets.
Managing the Estate
Sometimes the personal representative will have unusual or difficult assets to manage during the administration of the estate. For example, the personal representative may be called upon to deal with rental properties, business interests, or assets that will decrease in value if not carefully protected.
Finalizing the Administration
Finally, the personal representative’s destination is in sight – the administration is almost over. All assets have been kept safe for the heirs and valid claims have been paid. The personal representative may now distribute remaining assets according to the terms of the Will or Alabama law.
To Navigate the Probate Court, It Helps to Have a Pilot
Attorney Bruce Adams assists clients like you with their estate planning and probate matters. Call us at 256-237-3339 to schedule an appointment. We are located in Anniston, Alabama, but help clients in surrounding communities like Oxford, Jacksonville, Heflin, Gadsden, and Pell City.