We’ve all heard the nightmare stories about the probate process. Someone has died and their children or other heirs end up tied up in court fighting for years over who is entitled to what. However, the reality is that most estates can be administered in a timely and efficient manner. So what’s the key to making sure the administrative process doesn’t turn ugly? Two things: first and foremost, if you’re about to handle the administration of a loved one’s estate make sure you obtain skilled and experienced legal assistance from the start; and, second, make sure that there is a continuous and ongoing flow of communication between the Executor/Administrator and the heirs.
Time after time, I’ve watched folks try to take on the probate process on their own. Their thought process apparently being: “I’ll just look online and figure out how to do this without an attorney. I’ll save a lot of money and everyone will be happy.” Well, unless you’ve got some kind of legal or accounting background, you’ll probably pretty quickly find that you’re in over your head. Remember, you’re going to be dealing with the management and ultimate distribution of a loved one’s hard earned legacy. When it comes to money, we all know that emotions can run hot pretty darn quickly. Likewise, you’ll also being dealing with things like debts and creditors of the decedent as well as income, inheritance and estate tax matters. This is where the skilled advice of a professional will really come into play.
When it comes to disgruntled heirs, the number one complaint is always the same: “No one is telling me anything. They must be up to no good.” Do yourself a favor and make sure that you keep the heirs up to date with respect to your progress in the administrative process. Heirs who are being kept in the loop are typically much more patient and easy to deal with. You don’t need to bore them with every nuance of your administration, but providing them with updates and expected time frames with go a very long way in ensuring that the probate process goes smoothly.
If you’ve lost a loved one and find yourself about to enter into the estate administration process and are not sure who to turn to for trusted, experienced legal help, seek out the advice of friends and family and make sure that you talk to several estate attorneys before you make a final decision about who to hire. Do your homework, hire a profession and make sure you keep the lines of communication open and you’ll find that the probate process doesn’t have to turn into nightmare.
*American Wills & Estates is a law firm that has been assisting clients in Pittsburgh and throughout Western Pennsylvania through the probate estate administration process with competency, compassion and care for over 25 years. Give them a call today at (412) 381-7370 to schedule your free legal consultation or visit them online at www.americanwillsandestates.com. You’ll be glad you did.