What is Probate and why do I need to do it?
The Probate Court has many functions, but when someone has died, Probate is the process of distributing a deceased’s assets according to a Will, or by statutory schedule if there is no will, with the supervision of the Probate Court.
You won’t be able to transfer any property of a deceased person (a house, a car, a bank account or investment account) until the Probate Court has appointed someone to manage the estate, and in some cases the court will oversee the transfer as well.
We owned everything jointly, do I still need probate?
If you owned real estate together, the answer is probably yes. In Connecticut, a house owned in survivorship will still need to go through a streamlined probate process to removed the deceased’s name from title. The surviving spouse won’t be able to sell, mortgage, or refinance the property until the deceased is removed.
If there were any individually owned assets, such as a car, you will still need to open a probate estate, even if it’s just that one asset.
What role does a lawyer play in the Probate process?
Act as a neutral fiduciary
An attorney-executor or administrator can manage the entire process. This is especially helpful if the heirs are not cooperating with each other. An experienced Probate attorney can help the process move forward efficiently and will always act in the best interest of the estate, not any individual heir.
Guide the Executor (or Administrator)
In most cases, a surviving spouse or adult child is appointed as the fiduciary. They will typically hire an attorney on behalf of the Estate to help them through the process, ensure the paperwork is all properly filled out and submitted and all statutory requirements are fulfilled.
Advocate for individual heirs
Regardless of who the fiduciary is, any heir or beneficiary can have their own attorney. Typically it’s not necessary for each beneficiary to have an attorney, unless they are challenging the actions of the Executor, contesting the will, or need to pursue any other litigation against the Estate.
If you’ve recently lost a loved one, call our office to discuss how you can start the probate process. If you have already opened an estate and you aren’t sure how to proceed, we can help finish the process. If you aren’t the executor and you feel that you aren’t being treated fairly, we can help you learn about your rights.