Probate & Estate Administration

If you’ve recently lost a loved one, please accept my sympathy. I work with clients in your shoes...each story is unique. Regardless of how much you already know about estate administration, my goal is to make the process as stress-free as possible. Let me explain the basics. Asset distribution may take several paths including passage by title, beneficiary designation, or probate or trust administration, depending upon the type of estate planning documents that were prepared in advance. Read more below about your specific circumstance. 

My Loved One Left a Will — Now What?  

Last wills and testaments must be preserved or validated by your state’s probate court. THE WILL MUST BE FILED BY AFFIDAVIT OR PETITION WITHIN 6 MONTHS OF DATE OF DEATH. You should meet with an attorney as soon as possible after a loved one's death to determine the steps to take to conserve the estate and to preserve the will or open an estate. To begin probate, a petition must be filed at the probate court in the deceased person’s last county of residence. The court will then review the decedent’s death certificate and a copy of his or her will, and appoint the executor. The executor is the person nominated in the will and is held responsible for marshaling the assets, paying debts and taxes, notifying creditors, and distributing remaining assets according to the will, in accordance with the will terms and any required Court orders.

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Administering a Trust 

Although trust administration involves many of the same steps as probate, it is usually more efficient, cost-effective, and private because there is less involvement with reporting requirements and court oversight. As in probate, any stated obligation, like expenses of last illness, funeral costs and taxes must be paid. Any specific bequests are distributed and the balance of the assets are either administrated or distributed in accordance with the terms of the trust. Both good accounting and providing notice to beneficiaries minimizes disputes during the administration of the trust. It is always best to administer a trust under the guidance of a trained attorney.

Common Challenges 

What happens when you feel entitled to more than you inherited? What if you believe your loved one was coerced or bribed when his or her will was drafted? What if you think the appointed executor is biased or incompetent? What if the will or trust does not meet legal standards? These questions and many others need to be answered with legal counsel to answer the questions, minimize obstacles and take necessary actions.

Probate & Estate Administration Attorney in Topeka, KS

When you’re coping with a loss, you need competent counsel to address the statutory requirements applicable to your specific facts. I offer initial consultations at my office free of charge to support the decisions and actions needed to be taken.