Although most of us don’t like to think about it, the truth is that no one lives forever. When the inevitable occurs, your assets, no matter how large or small, will need to be distributed regardless of whether or not you have a will. Even if you have a will, your assets will still pass through probate. An experienced probate attorney can assist your personal representative and/or your family members with navigating the process in South Dakota.
If you have a will
Having a will as part of your estate plan can help the probate process run more smoothly. If you die with a will in place, an attorney can assist your executor or beneficiaries with any legal issues and provide advice and guidance throughout the process. Along with validating your will, an attorney can prepare and file the proper paperwork and determine whether you owe any taxes on your estate.
Additionally, an attorney can assist with many other aspects of your estate administration, including:
- Identifying and appraising your assets
- Identifying and assessing your debts, making sure creditors are paid and debts satisfied
- Contacting your mortgage company, credit card companies and any of your other creditors
- Helping to manage your financial accounts
- Securing any proceeds from your life insurance
Should your will be challenged, a probate attorney can help ensure the court respects your final wishes.
If you do not have a will
Those who die without a will in place are considered intestate. This means their state’s intestacy laws determine how their estates will be distributed. Since each state has its own set of intestacy laws, an executor needs to understand the statutes for his or her state. An experienced probate attorney will know his or her state’s specific laws and will be able to advise the estate’s executor accordingly.
An attorney can help
From validating a will to protecting and defending its stipulations, a probate attorney can assist with all aspects regarding a probated estate. Being named executor of a will can be an awesome responsibility, and you need to make sure you are doing your job properly and in accordance with the law. Any South Dakota resident tasked with being an estate representative could benefit from an attorney’s services.