Benefits of Probate
Grand Junction Probate Lawyer
Historically, probate was the primary means to settle the estate of a deceased person. We've all heard tales and read newspaper accounts of probate dragging on for many years with battling heirs fighting it out in court. While that is an extreme case, most of our clients seek to avoid probate in developing their estate plans in order to spare their families from the expense, time and emotional toll of probate.
That being said, there are instances when the probate process may be beneficial to the family. If your children don't get along or you think one of them is very likely to contest your Will, probate may be advantageous and even necessary in order to provide a forum for settling disputes between them. You should nevertheless work toward the goal of developing an estate plan that simplifies the probate process, gives clear instruction on the distribution of assets, and minimizes the potential for disputes among your beneficiaries and heirs.
Actions of the Probate Court
Like most things in life, probate has advantages and disadvantages. Some of the advantages are:
- Verification of the Last Will and Testament: The Court will rule on the validity of the Will or Trust.
- Testator Capacity: If an heir challenges the validity of the Will on grounds that the writer of the Will (the Testator) was of unsound mind or subject to undue influence, the court may resolve these questions.
- Creditor Claims: Creditor claims can be addressed and are barred after one year.
- Interpretation of the Will: If heirs are contesting the terms of the Will, the court will determine the meaning of any disputed language in the document.
- Stewardship of the Personal Representative: Beneficiaries may request an accounting of all funds received and disbursed by the Estate and probate ensures the proper distribution of assets.
- Heirs have recourse: If an heir believes the Personal Representative is mishandling the estate, he or she has a ready forum in the Probate Court to air grievances.
- Real Estate Issues: Purchasers of estate property can be confident that the title is valid and clean, i.e. free from liens or encumbrances.
- Protection for the Personal Representative: Probate shields the Personal Representative from liability if the court's instructions are followed and no breach of fiduciary duty occurs.
Probate Lawyer in Grand Junction
The Law Offices of James A. Littlepage, a Grand Junction Probate and Estate Planning firm, has been assisting families in handling Probate matters since 1993. Mr. Littlepage has prepared over 2,000 estate plans and recently was recognized with a 2015 and 2016 Five Star Estate Planning Attorney℠ award. In 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 he received the Five Star Wealth Manager℠ award, as seen in 5280 and ColoradoBiz magazines. For assistance in Probate matters and disputes, please contact our Grand Junction office for a free 30 minute consultation for estate planning and probate.