Estate Planning and Probate:
A probate lawyer can help explain Maine’s probate statutes and outline options for a client regarding his or her estate plan. Probate is the legal process that is followed in one of the sixteen probate courts, one for each county, in Maine after someone dies. Generally it is when someone’s Last Will and Testament, along with other documentation, are presented to the court in order to administer a deceased person’s estate. If the court finds that the deceased person left a valid Will, the person named as the Personal Representative in the Last Will and Testament will then have the authority to collect the decedent’s property, pay the decedent’s debts that are valid should there be enough assets to do so and distribute the decedent’s property to the beneficiaries under the terms of the Will. The personal representative is subject to a variety of statutory requirements and to the oversight of the court and should consult a probate attorney regarding the process.
In the event that a person passes away without a Will, the person’s assets will pass to his/her spouse and family. Currently there are nine possible ways in which a person’s assets could be divided if he/she dies without a Will. Whether a decedent has a Will or not, it is important to go through probate so that the decedent’s property can be legally transferred to others free from the claims of creditors and others.
In some cases, some assets do not become part of a decedent’s estate and will pass to another person without going through probate. A probate lawyer at our office can review title to real estate, bank accounts and the like to determine whether or not an asset passes to another outside of the probate process. In addition, an attorney at Cameron Baker Law Firm can discuss with you whether or not a formal versus an informal probate proceeding is recommended and whether or not the estate qualifies as a small estate under the statute.