DC Probate Attorney
Probate Administration in the District of Columbia
Probate administration is a “final accounting” of the financial affairs of a person after his or her death. The probate estate is the legal process of paying the decedent’s final debts and distributing property to heirs. The estate can be filedregardless of whether the person had a valid will. The person appointed to administer the estate is the Personal Representative.
If you are the Personal Representative of a probate estate, you may feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities and duties you are expected to fulfill. A DC probate attorney can help you with the administration of an estate or a trust agreement. Having an experienced legal team assist you with the duties and responsibilities can make the burden of finalizing your loved one’s financial affairs easier to shoulder.
The Probate Process and Why You Need a DC Probate Attorney
Probate is a court-supervised process of paying bills, filing tax returns, and distributing assets after a person passes away. The DC probate laws dictate how an estate is administered. As the Personal Representative, you must take certain steps to ensure the estate is administeredaccording to the law. The court supervises your administration to ensure you fulfill all your duties and responsibilities.
Navigating the probate process can be intimidating, especially if you are not familiar with probate laws. A DC probate attorney by your side can enable you to administer the estate successfully and efficiently.
As a seasoned DC probate attorney, I provide support and guidance throughout each step of the probate process including:
· Opening a Probate Estate and Appointing a Personal Representative
The first step is to file the required forms to open the probate estate and obtain documents appointing you as the Personal Representative. The forms required to open a probate estate contain detailed information. I take care of completing and filing these forms for you to open the estate.
· Sending Notice to Interested Parties
Once the probate estate is opened, you must provide notice of the estate to all interested parties. Interested parties include potential heirs and creditors of the estate. You must file proof of notice with the court.
· Identifying Assets and Preparing an Inventory
You are responsible for identifying all assets of the estate, including securing those assets. Sometimes, you may need to close financial accounts and transfer those funds to an estate account. In other cases, you may need to move assets to a secure location, especially if heirs are attempting to take assets that may not belong to the heirs.
After you identify and secure assets, you must prepare and file an inventory with the court. The inventory is a detailed accounting of all assets of the decedent, including descriptions of each asset and a current value for each asset.
· Liquidating Assets, Paying Bills, & Filing Tax Returns
The financial responsibilities of probating an estate can be overwhelming, depending on the size of the estate and other circumstances. Some Personal Representatives may need to liquidate assets to generate funds to pay debts. In some cases, a person may direct the Personal Representativeto liquidate assets as part of the distribution to heirs. Besides handling the estate’s assets, you are also required to pay the valid debts of the decedent. This step involves reviewing claims filed by creditors to determine if the claims should be paidor if you need to object to a specific claim. I handle most of these duties for you with your assistance.
In some cases, you may have to file a final tax return for the decedent. In addition, some estates must file an estate tax return. I will guide you through your duties regarding tax liabilities so you need not worry about whether you are complying with personal income and estate tax laws.
· Distributing Assets to Heirs
After allbills are paid or settled, you need to distribute assets to the heirs. The assets must be distributedaccording to the terms of the will or a court order. When distributing assets, you may need to draft deeds, titles, or other documents to transfer the assets legally to the heirs. As an experienced DC probate attorney, I prepare the required documents necessary to transfer title and ownership of assets to the heirs.
· Closing the Probate Estate
After allassets are distributed,andyou have fulfilled the duties and responsibilities required to probate the estate, you may petition the court to close the probate estate. Usually you must file a final accounting for the court to review detailing how you distributed the assets. Upon court approval, the judge issues an order closing the estate.
DC Probate Litigation and Other Matters
The above steps are general steps involved in most probate estates. However, your loved one’s probate estate is unique. You may have issues and matters arisewithin the estate that requiressteps besides the above general steps in the probate process.
Sometimes heirs may contest a will or the distribution of assets. In some cases, a creditor may assert a claim that is not valid, and you must object to the claim. Probate litigation resolves disputes related to the probate estate.
Having an experienced DC probate attorney to guide you through the matters and issues related to a probate estate is important. Besides relieving stress and decreasing the time you must spend on probating an estate, a DC probate attorney protects you.
You can be held personally liable for breaches of your fiduciary duty as a Personal Representative. An attorney ensures that you fulfill all your duties and responsibilities to avoid allegations of breach of fiduciary duty. If anyone raises allegations related to your administration of the estate, your attorney defends you against those allegations.
Intestate Estates and Trust Agreements
I can also assist you with intestate estates and trust agreements. If your loved one did not have a valid will, you need to petition for an intestate administration. Intestacy laws dictate how a person’s estate will be distributedif he or she died without a valid will. Intestate estates can be more complex, time-consuming, and costly to administer.
If your loved one had a trust agreement as part of his or her estate plan, you mightbe namedas the trustee. Your obligations and duties as trustee are in addition to your responsibilities as a Personal Representative of the probate estate. You may have to liquidate additional assets or distribute trust assets to beneficiaries.
Receiving the HelpYou Need to Administer a DC Probate Estate
The estate administration process can be a stressful and challenging endeavor. A DC probate attorney can help you manage the probate estate and finalize the financial affairs of your loved one. You need not go through the process alone.
Experience You Can Trust
If you have questions about the probate process or you want a DC probate attorney to handle the probate estate for you, contact my office. I am here to provide support and guidance as you go through finalizing your loved one’s affairs after his or her death.