The probate process occurs whenever a person dies. With emotions running high, the grieving family may feel lost. As a result, many important legal questions regarding the property rights of heirs and other parties for the foreseeable future may arise during probate.
A Kernersville probate lawyer could help stand up for your rights during this process. A local trusts and estates attorney could evaluate the legality of testamentary documents, initiate probate in a local courthouse, assist executors in fulfilling their roles, and evaluate the actions of executors for any apparent malfeasance.
While probate is a certainty for the estates of most decedents, the process does not begin automatically. A court will only initiate probate when an individual informs the court about a person’s death. To save time and additional effort, this same person should submit a copy of a decedent’s will to the court when they give notice of the passing.
One of the first steps the probate court will take is authenticating the decedent’s will. A written will should contain the signature of the testator, as well as the signatures of two witnesses.
However, an interested party may allege that a more recent will exists or that the document was the product of fraud or undue influence. In these cases, a court may act to invalidate a will. A dedicated attorney could help initiate probate and raise questions about the validity of a will if family members present compelling doubts.
North Carolina General Statutes §28A-4-1 states that a will can nominate an executor. If no one is specified, however, the court may appoint a person to serve in this role. Regardless of how the executor is chosen, the court will issue testamentary letters that empower the executor to take temporary control of the decedent’s property.
This executor must then fulfill their role under the law, which includes settling a decedent’s debts, maintaining the property while it sits in the estate, and distributing property according to the language of the will. Executors who are uncertain about what their roles entail should consult with a Kernersville lawyer about the steps they must take to fulfill their duties under the law.
A failure to take these steps is a common source of disputes in probate court. Executors may be personally responsible for any lost value to an estate due to their errors or intentional fraud. A skilled attorney could help evaluate the actions of executors to identify errors during the probate process and protect the rights of heirs and other affected parties.
The probate process is how the court ensures that proper heirs receive the assets they are entitled to after an individual’s passing. To protect your rights and ensure that the law is followed, work with a Kernersville probate lawyer.
A local attorney could assist you in initiating the probate process, explain your obligations, evaluate the validity of a will, and pursue lawsuits if an executor has failed in their duties. Reach out to a competent lawyer today to learn more.