5 Types of Probate Court Cases
Probate court is a unique type of court that deals with matters pertaining to the estate of a deceased person. It also oversees the distribution of assets after a person has died. The word probate refers to the proving of a will: determining if a testament is valid or not. Probate cases take different forms, and each one has unique procedures that will follow. Protocols can also vary from one state to another. After the death of an individual, it is a requirement for his or her will to pass through the probate process. Understanding the different kinds of cases heard in probate court is imperative. Note that all probate proceedings occur in the place where the deceased was living permanently at the time of death.
- Administration of Assets
Before an estate can be divided among heirs, the court must decide on the originality of the will. Until this happens, a will has no legal effect, meaning heirs cannot make claims to any part of a decedent’s estate. Immediately after death, the representative of the deceased must produce the will. Suppressing or destroying a will is an offense punishable by law. A probate court can demand that a representative delivers a will within a specified period. The role of the court in this instance is to ensure the last wishes of a testator are met. By accounting the decedent’s properties, the court can then distribute them according to the terms of a will. The type of estate and the assets dictate the filing procedures. Having an Roseville CA estate-planning lawyer in such a scenario may be very helpful.
- Will Contests
An instrument (will) can be brought into question if there are solid grounds. Contesting a will usually involves heirs or relatives fighting the validity of a document submitted for probate. Various matters can lead to the contest of a probated will. For one, there may be arguments that the testator did not have the mental capacity to make the will. Another is that an individual may have been coerced in some way to make the instrument. A will that did not follow the proper legal protocols can also come into question. Whatever the reason for the contest, enough proof should be available to support it. The representative of the will has the job of defending its contents as valid.
- Guardianship of Minors and their Assets
Another type of case that the probate court oversees is the appointment of guardianship when the deceased has left behind a minor. If a will proposed a guardian for the decedent’s child, then the court has to conduct investigations to see if they meet certain qualifications. On the off chance that a decedent did not leave a will, it is the court’s duty to appoint a guardian while taking the interests of the child into consideration. The court requires guardians to make annual reports.
- Conservatorships of Adults and their Assets
A conservatorship case happens when a responsible adult or entity is put in charge of a person who cannot care for him or herself. The conservatee can be a young person or an senior who doesn’t have the capability to handle their own estate. A temporary conservator is appointed when the need for one arises suddenly. The type and terms of a conservatorship will depend on a specific case.
- Administration of Trusts
Some wills contain documents that leave assets or money (trust) to another individual. A trust is left in the care of a trustee who is supposed to oversee the distribution of assets. Probate courts have the mandate to hear cases involving various issues of a trust. For instance, if there is a need to amend the terms of a trust, or when there are disputes between different parties, the issues will be heard by probate court.
Thanks to our friends and contributors at Meyer & Yee, P.C. for their insight into probate cases.