Probate and Will Laws
Wills laws and probate laws deal with the distribution and administration of property in an estate. Probate laws define the rules and requirements for administrating an estate after a loved one’s death, while wills laws outline what constitutes a valid will.
Drawing up a will is an important step in the estate planning process. The will is a legal document that instructs how you want your property distributed upon your death. In order to be a valid will, will law states the document must be properly signed and witnessed by two people and you must be of sound mind and at least eighteen years old when it is signed.
The will can be handwritten, however, the law requires handwritten wills to be analyzed and validated by two handwriting experts. In order to avoid the possibility of an invalid will, a wills attorney can prepare the document for you.
A will usually includes the following:
- Appointment of a personal representative to carry out your wishes
- Clear outline of how you want your assets distributed
- Appointment of a guardian for minor or incompetent children
- Directives on funeral arrangements and other personal concerns
A will can be revoked at any time before your death, by destroying it or creating a new will that replaces the old one. Will law revokes a will if it is created before you are married or have children, or if you get divorced. In the case of divorce, only the rights of your former spouse are revoked.
The process of distributing your assets after you die is governed by probate law. The probate court supervises the executor or administrator of your estate to be sure all laws and requirements are met. These include:
- Collection, valuation, liquidation and distribution of assets
- Notification of heirs and beneficiaries and creditors
- Payment of debts, obligations and valid claims
- Preparation and filing of income, inheritance and gift tax returns
- Preparation and filing of court reports and inventories and appearance in court
- Payment of all court and legal costs
If you need assistance interpreting or complying with probate or will laws, contact Memphis probate lawyers at the Baer Firm for a consultation. Our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in estate planning, probate, and will administration.