A Delaware personal representative lawyer can help you if the court has named you as the executor of a loved one’s estate or if you were named in your loved one’s will. An executor, also known as a personal representative, plays a crucial role in organizing all of the materials associated with the deceased’s estate. The duties of a personal representative involve settling the decedent’s estate and enumerated in Delaware’s Decedents’ Estates and Fiduciary Relations Law, 12 DE Code § 1501 et seq.
This can include gathering an inventory of all of the items they owned, notifying creditors about the opening of probate, paying off creditors’ claims and taxes as ordered by the state of Delaware, and processing any remaining assets to be given to beneficiaries of the estate. In these circumstances a personal representative in Delaware might not realize all that is being asked of them until after they have been appointed. While some people might be familiar with the probate process, most are not.
This is why hiring a Delaware personal representative attorney can help you. A Delaware personal representative lawyer will sit down with you to discuss the various steps of the probate process and answer the questions you might have regarding how you’ll interface with beneficiaries or manage other aspects of closing out estate administration. No executor wants to be exposed to the personal liability that can come with making a mistake and being named in a lawsuit.
This is where retaining a Delaware personal representative attorney at the outset of the case gives you clarity as well as a roadmap to follow for this process. In all of these circumstances it is in your best interests to retain the services of an attorney sooner rather than later so that you can navigate the complexities of any estate related issues as promptly and as effectively as possible.
When Is Probate Required in Delaware?
An estate must be probated in the county in which the decedent lived at the time they passed away. An estate has to be probated if the decedent had more than $30,000 in personal property in their name alone, or if they owned Delaware real estate in their name alone either as a tenant in common or as solely held. Hiring an attorney to help you determine the various assets belonging in the estate is the first step.
Once the person who has been appointed as a personal representative comes forward, the register of wills will grant letters testamentary or letters of administration to an executor. The process of closing out a person’s estate usually takes around one year and there are multiple responsibilities associated with Delaware personal representatives.
Once that person has gathered all of the materials for your loved one, the support from an attorney can help to avoid costly disputes, such as will contests or claims that the executor has breached their fiduciary duty. An executor has a legal responsibility to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries and violating this could lead to lawsuits filed by those beneficiaries. Hiring an attorney shows proper due diligence and care and concern over the administration of a loved one’s estate. It can also help you to have this person in your corner as your legal representative if something does come forward in the form of a lawsuit.
Having someone to help you prepare your evidence and submit your materials to court can decrease the possibility of a successful claim of breach of fiduciary duty. In all of these circumstances, you will likely have different questions as the process evolves and will need clarity on whether or not the documentation you have gathered is sufficient enough. Having an attorney to answer these questions can make a world of difference during this otherwise confusing and overwhelming time.