If a family member has recently passed away without a valid will in place, and you believe that you will be receiving something from the estate, it is important to know that a probate attorney will usually need to intercede in order to make sure that the dissolution of the money or property is properly administered in compliance with the laws of the state. Although the laws that will impact how and when items of value and money belonging to the deceased will be given to the recipients, there are several aspects of probate law that tend to be the same from one state to the next. Therefore, it is a good idea to be aware of the information provided below. 

Assessing the Value of the Estate

When there is not a legal and binding will available at the time of death, one of the first tasks that a probate lawyer will often need to do is determine the value of the estate. That will include any investments, bank accounts, and certificates of deposit held by the deceased person as well as the value of vehicles, homes, and property, including furniture, artwork, electronics, and so forth.    

That information will be particularly important if it becomes necessary to sell part of the estate to offset the cost of deceased person's death, as mentioned below.

Taking Care of Any Debts and Bills Owed By the Deceased Person

It is important to note that prior to being able to provide family members with the estate, the probate attorney has the legal obligation to pay any outstanding bills or other debts. Unfortunately, that typically includes any unpaid medical expenses, student loans, and credit cards held by the deceased person. While many debts are immediately apparent, other creditors may file a claim on the state months after your loved one's death.

If there is not enough cash in the bank or on hand to pay those debts in full, items of value will need to be sold off in order to pay the creditors. The probate attorney will need to verify that the value of the items being sold is commensurate with their value. Only after those debts are paid in full can the probate lawyer start administering the remaining items to the persons who are eligible recipients. However, you need to remember that dissolution of an estate when there was no will can often be time consuming and that it could easily be months until you can receive your share of the estate.

In conclusion, probate law can vary from one state to the next, and it often becomes necessary for a probate attorney to step in when a person dies without leaving a properly created and legally binding will. If your loved one died without that important document, and you have reason to believe that you may be inheriting something from the estate, you need to be aware of the commonalities of probate attorneys from one state to the next. Talk to a lawyer such as David R Webb Attorney to get started.