After your spouse or parent passes away, you may realize that some of their assets are missing from their will. They might have told you about specific property, savings, or money that you would receive, but none of these assets are mentioned in the will. This may require you to go through a probate court hearing to determine if the will is real and legitimate as well as possesses the correct assets.
What exactly is a probate court hearing and why might I need one?
A probate court hearing is the legal process in which you go through to find your family member or loved one’s last will and testament. While many people may think that they would rather skip probate, this type of hearing may be beneficial in assisting you with determining if the will is valid and help you find any additional or hidden assets that you are aware or unaware of. At the end of the probate hearing, the assets will be distributed to their intended beneficiaries.
If there is no will available, probate may still be necessary to inform you of what bills are left by the deceased to pay as well as to help you distribute their property or assets. Many people pass away without creating wills. In these cases, the probate court hearing process is very similar to cases where a will is present.
What are hidden assets?
Hidden assets are different types of assets that are hard to identify and locate. There are usually various reasons why assets are hidden, but one of the most common reasons is that the person who died and left the asset behind failed to provide proper documentation for the assets. Many people are secretive about their money and assets, or they never make a will because they think they have more time to live. Sometimes, people develop unexpected health conditions that impact their memory before they create their wills. Here are some commonly found hidden assets:
- Shares and stocks
- Life insurance policies
- Bank societies
Why is it important to uncover additional or hidden assets during probate?
If you believe that your loved one left behind additional or hidden assets, it is very important that you uncover them during probate. You not only want to make sure that you find everything your loved one left behind, but you also want to make sure that the value of the assets is accurately calculated. If the value of the assets is not correctly calculated because an asset is missing, this can cause big issues in the future. For example, once the probate process is over and a missing asset is located, you may become responsible for paying the additional inheritance taxes, including costly interest and penalty fees. In addition, further family problems could emerge as other beneficiaries will be notified about the discovered assets that need to be distributed.
Am I allowed to find the hidden assets?
You are only allowed to find hidden assets if you are the executor of an estate. Executors are typically chosen by the individual who created the will before they pass away. The executor’s duty is to carry out the deceased individual’s wishes and demands when it comes to their money, property, and other assets listed in their will. For example, they may leave their home to their daughter, and their car to their nephew. In this case, it is your responsibility to make sure that these individuals receive the assets left to them by the deceased individual. Most of the time, a person will choose their spouse, child, or grandchild to be their executor. However, if they think that there will be tension or arguments during the distribution process, they may decide to select a lawyer or accountant to be their executor instead.
How can a Chattanooga probate lawyer help me?
Once you discover that you are the executor of a deceased person’s will, you should reach out to a Chattanooga probate lawyer from Wagner & Wagner to get assistance. Our attorneys are available and ready to help you with sorting through their assets, savings, property, debt, bills, and more. We know that it can be difficult to mourn your loved one while also being put in charge of distributing their valuable items left behind. Therefore, our team will do everything we can to make this process as smooth and stress-free as possible for you. These are some of the tasks we will help you with:
- Validating the will
- Collecting assets
- Notifying parties listed on the will
- Locating hidden assets
- Determining the bills that need to be paid
- Distributing the assets
With over 75 years of experience, our Chattanooga probate attorneys from Wagner & Wagner know how difficult it can be to lose a loved one. Therefore, we will gladly help you resolve any disagreements that arise during the probate process as well as ensure that the negotiation remains simple and fair. Please do not hesitate to fill out our contact form or call our office at your earliest convenience to get the guidance you need and deserve today. We serve clients in Chattanooga, Cleveland, and other Tennessee counties.
Wagner & Wagner is one of the longest-established law firms in Chattanooga. With more than seven decades of proven legal experience, our law practice has steadily grown through repeat business, valuable referrals and a tradition of client satisfaction. Learn More