Probate process necessary for inheritance
No one ever goes to a Charlotte probate court to be entertained. The process is like surgery — when everything is going well, it’s extremely boring to watch and listen to. If things get exciting, it means something has gone terribly wrong. Perhaps the children and stepchildren are fighting over the assets, or creditors no one knew about are coming out of the woodwork to claim a share of the estate, or the IRS has discovered unpaid taxes owed by the deceased.
When someone dies, whether or not they left a will, the probate process begins. If the estate is small enough, there is a shortened version of the process. One of the jobs of a probate attorney is to let his or her client know if the estate is large enough that the whole process is necessary.
The county where the deceased was residing in at the time of death has jurisdiction over it, and the clerk of that county’s superior court is in charge of the process. If the deceased didn’t name an executor, the court appoints a personal representative to handle the estate. Then it determines the validity of the will, if there is one. If there isn’t, the assets are distributed according to state law. In either case, taxes will be collected and creditors will file claims. All forms relating to the assets of the deceased must be filed in probate court.
With the permission of probate court, cash (but not real estate) can be withdrawn from the estate as a living allowance for the deceased’s spouse or minor children before the process is complete. However, the process must be completed before the deceased’s heirs can lay claim to what he or she left them.
Finding a probate attorney in the Gastonia area
if it turns out the estate must go through the whole process, you’ll want a probate attorney who deals with all aspects of probate administration in his or her own office, and goes to the courthouse on your behalf— filing papers, distributing assets, dealing with tax issues, paying creditors and other claimants. This way, you won’t need to go to the courthouse at all. An estate management attorney who also handles probate can tell you which assets go through the process. Whether you are an executor of a will, a court-appointed personal representative or are making out your will, you will want legal help from an attorney.
Robert C. Whitt is a Gastonia attorney, servicing the areas of Gastonia, Charlotte, Mount Holly and Gaston, Mecklenburg, Lincoln Counties and surrounding communities. He focuses on wills, trusts and other aspects of elder law, and can serve as a probate attorney. Call and make an appointment today.