The person who has died is called the decedent. Their heirs are called heirs or survivors (or beneficiaries). Someone is going to be appointed to administer everything and make sure all the expenses are paid. That person is the executor. It’s usually a family member but it’s not required to be one. A person could make their attorney the executor. The next main player would be the surrogate, which is the judge in Surrogate’s Court. Their job is to supervise and make sure that everything is legally gathered and dispersed in accordance with the decedent’s Last Will.
What Is The Standard Timeline For A Probate Case?
If the courts are not very busy, a probate case could take an average of two months for the Letters Testamentary to be issued, which would give the executor the ability to gather the assets. Assuming it was one house and a couple of bank accounts, it could all be over in a matter of six to nine months. If they had substantial assets such as multiple homes, stock accounts and other assets, we might need formal appraisals for each home or for collectible pieces of art, and a really complex matter might take years to resolve.
What Are Some Common Costs Involved In The Probate Case?
An attorney fee on a probate case is subject to court approval. It’s usually somewhere between five and seven percent of the value of the estate. If it’s a simple matter, you may get an attorney to do it on a flat fee. The other costs would include the executor. They get a percentage of the estate, which is set by statute, but they can waive their fee. You also have the court costs, depending on the value of the estate. If the estate is worth ten thousand dollars, it may be a four hundred and twenty dollar filing fee. If it’s worth 10 million dollars, it might be a fifteen hundred dollar filing fee. If you have to sell real estate, there are real estate broker fees. There can be formal appraisals by licensed appraisers. The cost really depends on the complexity of a case.
Can Someone Realistically Navigate The Probate Process Without An Attorney?
Theoretically, it’s possible to attempt to handle a probate case without an attorney. However, navigating the probate process yourself is kind of like acting as your own dentist. You probably could do your own tooth extraction, but it’s certainly not advisable. If a court returns a document because I forgot to date it, I could immediately go there and date it. They could Federal Express it to me and I could Federal Express it back. If someone is trying to do this when they work full time and they don’t answer the phone or don’t get home until the court is closed, it could take them a week to call back. An attorney will understand that it’s time sensitive. He or she can walk you through, ahead of time, what it is you can expect. They should handle it and give you frequent updates, so you can go enjoy the rest of your life.
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