Probate of wills is a legal term referring to the official procedure for recording, settling and executing wills, said probate and elder law lawyer in Miami. Wills records prepared by state officials for the testator who dies. In general, will procedures are applicable in all states that use the same testator rules. In addition, probate of wills often involves the involvement of representatives of the decedent’s heirs, including creditors and estate planners.
In general terms, wills are recorded in duplicate in the county where the testator resided prior to his death and recorded in the same county where the decedent died. However, the probate court in each jurisdiction has its own procedures for recording and executing the same. Some jurisdictions also allow for will exchanges in which one testator signs an instrument with another or states that the testator has fully paid his/her debts to others. It is necessary to record the testator’s name under the appropriate heading as part of the will. While the use of names other than the testator’s, especially in the case of initials or nicknames, is common in many probate jurisdictions, it is not necessary to use legal titles.
In legal terms, “testimony” refers to any oral statement, whether oral or written, concerning the testator’s affairs which may be used as evidence at any later stage in the probate of wills proceedings. Testimonials may be based on information learned from others, hearsay and even dreams. While a few states recognize a will as having been executed in state court if there is no probate action, the majority of states recognize a will as a legally binding document and require an oath of the parties to a testator’s act. Generally, a legal representative of the decedent’s estate presents the sworn statement at the testator’s expense to a probate court, whether or not the testator is present.
There are also some states that allow the testator or his estate to appoint an agent to control certain aspects of the estate during the administration of the will. Such an agent may have the responsibility for distributing the assets to beneficiaries and for the collection of monies owed to them. This aspect is important in limited liability situations because the testator may be personally liable for the actions of the agent or his estate. This is not the case in all jurisdictions however and is a question that must be considered on a case by case basis.
Estate planning is an essential component of estate tax planning and must be undertaken as a part of any estate plan. In order to successfully revokes a will, a testator must be in financial difficulty, there must be a substantial uncertainty about the future of the testator’s estate and the testator must be in compliance with applicable estate tax laws. Some jurisdictions refer to a will as a “power of attorney” and others to a “writing of trust.” The term will does not imply that the document itself is invalidated by the federal law, it simply provides for the existence of a prior written document that was not properly executed under the provisions of the law.