Washington DC Probate Lawyer
Have you recently been named the personal representative (executor) of a family member’s estate? If so, this is likely your first experience dealing with the probate process. The experienced Washington DC probate lawyers at Henault & Sysko Chartered can guide you step-by-step through the administration of an estate. We can advise you on your duties and responsibilities as personal representative and assist you with all aspects of probate, including gathering the estate’s assets, preparing all necessary legal filings, and overseeing the final distribution to beneficiaries.
How Probate Works in the District of Columbia
How a probate estate is handled depends largely on whether or not the deceased individual had a valid last will and testament. If there is a will, the court will normally appoint the person nominated in that document to serve as personal representative. The will also directs the distribution of any probate assets in the estate. But if there is no will, then DC intestacy law sets the order of priority for naming a personal representative and establishes the default distribution of property.
Regardless of whether or not a will exists, a potential personal representative or other interested person must begin the process by filing a petition for probate with the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. The probate itself may be supervised or unsupervised by the court. In a supervised probate, the personal representative needs to file an inventory of the estate’s assets and periodic accounts with the court. But where the probate is unsupervised, such filings are typically only sent to the beneficiaries and heirs of the estate, and the actual administration does not require any in-person court proceedings.
Once the probate estate is established, the personal representative has a fiduciary responsible for the estate’s assets. This means the personal representative has the authority to “marshal” any known assets of the deceased person, take legal action to protect such assets, and pay any legally enforceable debts or expenses of the deceased. This includes filing any tax returns on behalf of the deceased or the estate. Our DC probate lawyers can assist you in accomplishing these and many other probate-related tasks.
Speak with Henault & Sysko Chartered Today If You Need Help Administering a Washington DC Probate Estate
Another critical task of DC probate administration is figuring out which assets do not actually pass as part of a person’s estate. For example, if the deceased previously established a living or irrevocable trust, any assets belonging to the trustee are not probate assets. Similarly, any assets that were jointly titled with someone else–such as a joint bank account or a house owned in joint tenancy with a spouse–are not part of the probate estate. Our qualified DC probate attorneys can assist you in conducting a thorough review of your loved one’s property to ensure no asset is misclassified.
So if you need help with any estate or probate matter, call Henault & Sysko Chartered at 410-768-9300 today to schedule an initial consultation.