Gaughan & Connealy is here for you in the difficult time after someone you love has passed away. When a death occurs, the last thing on the mind of grieving family members is learning probate and trust laws. Unfortunately, there are steps that have to be taken after a death to wind up the deceased’s estate and to ensure that property left behind is handled appropriately. Rather than try to muddle through the legal process after a death on your own, you can focus on your grief while we handle the legal issues for you.
To find out how Gaughan & Connealy can offer assistance after the loss of a loved one, give our legal team a call today. We can provide personalized advice and a plan for your situation and can answer some of the questions you’re most likely to have including:
- What is my responsibility after the death of a loved one?
- What will happen to the property of the deceased?
- How can a Kansas City or Overland Park probate lawyer help after the loss of a loved one?
What Happens After Someone You Love Has Passed Away?
When someone that you love has passed away, you will need to determine if the person had a will. If so, an executor should have been named in that will. The executor is the person who is going to be in charge of the formal process of winding up all of the affairs of the person who has passed away. If there is no executor, the probate court will appoint an administrator to handle the role that the executor would normally play. If your loved one who passed away made a comprehensive estate plan, it may be possible that he or she will also have trusts that are under the control of the trustee. If so, the trustee will oversee the trust administration process.
Both the probate and the trust administration process are intended to facilitate the transfer of the assets of the deceased to new owners. The executor, administrator, or trustee will be in charge of managing the deceased’s assets until they are formally transferred to new legal owners. Executors, administrators, and trustees all have a fiduciary duty, which is the highest duty of care that exists by law. If an executor, administrator or trustee mismanages money or property, or takes money out of the estate for personal use and gain, this can result in legal action.
Heirs and family members who are not named as executors, not appointed as administrators, and not serving as trustees will have limited or no legal responsibilities after a death. However, you will need to make sure you understand what is in the will that the deceased left behind, and that you monitor the probate or trust administration process to ensure that the executor, administrator, or trustee are fulfilling their role.
You will also want to come to probate court in many situations, as decisions made in probate court can affect your inheritance. During the probate process, creditors will have the chance to make claims on the estate that may have to be paid. The estate may be formally valued as part of the probate process and, if the value of the estate exceeds excludable limits, estate taxes will also be assessed during probate. You should keep abreast of what is occurring during probate so you can understand how the financial affairs of the estate are affected.
What Happens to Property After Death?
The main purpose of probate or trust administrator is to facilitate the transfer of property after a death. The process by which this occurs will vary depending upon the estate planning done by the deceased. In some cases, property will all transfer quickly and easily outside of probate because the deceased will have made arrangement such as creating trusts and using joint ownership on accounts and other property. In other situations, the deceased will have done no estate planning at all, and the intestacy rules will apply to determine which close family members should inherit property.
Ideally, the deceased will have specified who should receive the assets left behind. The property should transfer to the person specified (or the person who is dictated by intestacy laws) and the new owner will become the official legal owner.
How Can an Overland Park or Kansas City Probate Lawyer Help?
Gaughan & Connealy can offer invaluable assistance to family members who have lost loved ones. Give us a call today to learn more about the compassionate and caring legal services offered after a death has occurred in Kansas or Missouri.