When you are drawing up your last will it is important to recognize the fact that it is not going to be read by your loved ones in private and never see the light of day. When you utilize a will as your primary vehicle of asset transfer your estate must pass through the legal process of probate. Probate is a public proceeding during which the probate or surrogate court will examine your will to attest to its validity. Should anyone step forward to challenge your will, their arguments would be presented before the probate court.
During probate the court supervises the administration of the estate, but the actual legwork is done by the executor that you choose when you are drawing up your will. However, unless the executor is a legal expert with accounting, appraisal, and liquidation experience, he or she is going to need the assistance of some savvy professionals. Since probate is indeed a legal process, the most important step is going to be to retain a probate attorney who understands the system. The probate lawyer will guide the executor through the process to the satisfaction of the court.
All of the above underscores how important it is to engage the services of an estate planning attorney when you are creating your will. You see websites that say you can do it yourself and that it is simply a matter of filling in the blanks on a generic template document. But these documents are offered to people in all 50 states and perhaps beyond, so they are not specific to any particular jurisdiction. When you work with an estate planning attorney in your area he or she is totally cognizant of the machinations of the probate court in that jurisdiction, so you can be sure that your paperwork will be properly executed.
If you want to leave nothing to chance, be certain your wishes are carried out, and any potential challenges to your will are met with firm resistance, the wise course of action is to engage the services of an experienced probate attorney from the outset.
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