Probate Cases: Last Will and Testament

Have you made a Last Will and Testament in order to distribute your property fairly among your family? It is important to explore the possible options that a will can provide. It is also important to look at the possibility that your will could be contested by various other parties. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the details of who probate cases are available to, how they work, and what they entail.

Firstly, a probate case executed through a court which will decide how your property is to be dispersed; the court also intervenes in matters where someone cannot make their own personal, financial, or health decisions. In many cases a person does not have to be deceased for this process to apply to them. Besides death, probate cases may be applied to children who have not reached 18 years or age or adults who are incapacitated. If you have children who are under 18, it is important to make a will so that a parent can be legally provided for as a probate case is the only legal means for this to happen.

In order to create a will, the person creating the will must have two people who have been ruled competent and do not benefit or receive anything in the written document. State laws vary as to the number of witnesses, but the testator (person dispersing their property) must adhere to all state restrictions. Also depending upon state regulations, wills may sometimes be handwritten; this is referred to as a holographic will and in many cases the witnesses may also be required, along with the testator to sign the will.

Some states do not require a probate case in which a will needs to be created. If you do not create a will there is a standard protocol initiated by the state in which a default will is used. Usually in these cases, the spouse will be awarded the property; if there is no spouse, it will be awarded to the children. If neither the children nor the spouse is living or the person who died did not have any, the parents will be awarded the property. In some cases, should the parents or even the siblings not be living, the property will eventually become the entitlement of the state.

A common misconception is that once a will is made that the details of the property are uncontestable. This is not the case. Even when a testator creates a will, there can be complications if others contest the will. A lot of times probate cases are expensive and take years to settle; one example of this could be seen in the case of Anna Nicole Smith. She fought her step-son for over a decade and both Smith and her step-son died before the case was ever officially settled.

Another famous probate case was that of Jimi Hendrix who died at 27. The rock legend did not have a will so there were many disputes over property rights from his family, as well as various other recording studios. Twenty years after Jimi Hendrix died, his father finally retained control over his estate. The battle did not end there though; after the father died in 2002, he left the remainder of the estate to his adopted daughter who then went through legal hassles with property rights due to Hendrix brother contesting her father's will. At the end, the daughter received the property. Regardless if a will is present, there is a chance that someone could contest the decision. Therefore, it is suggested to hire a skilled probate attorney who can clear misconceptions and can explicate the information needed to make an informed decision.