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Probate and estate administration are a central part of estate planning. Both pertain to how your estate will be handled when you are no longer here to take charge. If you reside in Louisville, Cincinnati, or the surrounding area, the highly skilled attorneys at Shaw & Nelson, PLLC are here to help you plan and prepare for both.

We have the legal knowledge and strategic understanding necessary to assist you in planning your estate carefully now, so it will be administered and settled efficiently when the time comes. We are also capable of helping you if you have been appointed executor (personal representative) of another party’s estate and are unsure about how to proceed. In either case, we will guide you through the challenging legal processes involved. 

Why Shaw & Nelson Is the Right Choice

Our attorneys are sensitive to the fact that if you are addressing estate planning issues, you may be uncomfortable about some of the subjects you have to consider, such as possible incapacity, and that if you are about to settle the estate of a loved one, you may be overwhelmed with the number of tasks that must be performed. Don’t worry! Once you become our client, our capable, empathic attorneys will be at your side every step of the way.

We will guide you through the probate and estate administration process and confirm that you have:

  • Filed for probate
  • Opened a bank account for the estate
  • Notified all beneficiaries named in the will 
  • Inventoried all estate assets and had them appraised
  • Paid the decedent’s debts 
  • Filed the decedent’s final income taxes
  • Paid any necessary taxes

We pay great attention to detail so we will make sure that everything is in proper order and that you have accomplished all necessary tasks.

The Probate Process 

Probate is the process through which a will is validated. During this process, the party chosen by the deceased as an executor is officially appointed as executor, the person who will administer the estate. It should be noted that if the deceased dies without a will (intestate), the court will appoint an executor, typically a close relative of the decedent.

It is worth noting that not all assets have to go through probate. As part of our estate planning services, our probate attorneys take proactive steps to avoid probate in high-net-worth or otherwise complicated estates in order to avoid costs and delays. This can be achieved by creating non-probate assets like:

  • Real property in which the title is held jointly with the right of survivorship
  • Life insurance or retirement policies with named beneficiaries
  • Revocable living trusts
  • Transfer-on-death (TOD) bank accounts. 

In some states, the probate process is simplified if the estate is worth a relatively small amount. For example, in Kentucky, probate is simplified if the estate being probated has assets of $30,000 or less.

Executors Have a Number of Important Responsibilities

The duties of the executor include:

  • Notifying named heirs and other beneficiaries of the decedent’s passing
  • Inventorying and appraising the estate assets (often using professional appraisers)
  • Paying the decedent’s debts, including federal estate taxes, if applicable
  • Filing the decedent’s final income taxes
  • Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries 
  • Closing the estate

Whether you are planning your own estate or taking over the job of estate administrator of someone else’s estate, it is important to be aware that executors and estate administrators are considered fiduciaries. This means that they have a binding legal duty to put the best interests of the testator (the person who created the will) and beneficiaries above all else and do everything possible to preserve the value of the estate’s assets.

Because there is always a chance that you may be accused of inaccuracy or misconduct in your role as a personal representative, it is critical that you work with a savvy probate and estate administration attorney who can defend your finances and your reputation.

The Special Challenges of Administering an Estate of Someone Who Died Intestate

Though only a small percentage of wills are contested, these often lead to prolonged and costly family disputes. If you are chosen by the court as an estate administrator in an intestate case, you will need the services of a strong estate administration attorney. 

The law team of Shaw & Nelson will use our well-developed negotiation skills to protect your interests, negotiate a peaceful settlement among warring family members, and see to it that the decedent’s wishes are followed.

Questions Related to Probate and Estate Administration

Many of our clients ask:

How much will probate cost? 

Probate cost will vary depending on the size and complexity of the estate, the type of estate plan, and whether the heirs contest the will. (In any case, court, filing, and appraisal fees will have to be paid out of the estate’s assets.)

How long will probate take?

Probate typically takes 6 to 12 months, but can take much longer if the estate is large and complex. 

Will the executor be paid for their time and trouble?

Executors are allowed by state law to be compensated by receiving a maximum of 5 percent of the total estate value but are also entitled to reimbursement for legitimate out-of-pocket expenses.

Contact Our Experienced Probate & Estate Administration Attorneys Today

Probate and estate administration can be complicated, especially for the uninitiated. That’s why it’s crucial to have the legal representation and moral support of a legal team that has been through these processes a great many times and is familiar with possible snags. Contact us now to find out how easy these processes can be when you are guided by informed, insightful professionals.

Shaw & Nelson, PLLC helps clients throughout Louisville and Cincinnati with their probate and estate administration process. We are here to answer all questions and also guide our clients through this complicated time.