Losing a loved one is one of the hardest events we deal with in life. A death can take a toll emotionally, mentally, financially, and physically on those left behind, whether in West Virginia (WV) or any other state. The last thing anyone wants to think about are legal issues that comes after death. Knowing how to prepare for probate of a will in WV can help make the process easier for the entire family.
Necessary Steps to Prepare for Probate of a Will in WV
Probate is defined as the legal process of authenticating a will and administering an estate according to the terms of a will. After a loved one dies, it is important to start the probate process early, as one of the first probate deadlines in WV is 30 days from the date of death.
Step One: Gather Documentation Needed
To prepare for probate of a will in WV, the first step is to obtain a certified copy of the death certificate and deliver it to the county clerk's office within the first 30 days. Along with the death certificate, if you have possession of the original will, you must also present it to the county clerk within this time period. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor crime in WV.
Step Two: Determine a Personal Representative
The next step to prepare for probate of a will in WV is the selection of a personal representative if needed. If there is no will, an appointed representative, must be bonded for the estimated value of the property that is solely in the decedent's name.
The personal representative is required to complete an appraisement form designed by the tax commissioner. which contains a list of items owned by the descendant, including all real estate and personal property. The appraisal must be completed and returned to the county clerk within 90 days of being qualified as the representative.
The duties of a personal representative in WV are primarily to keep order while the probate process is underway. The representative must decide whether a probate is necessary for the estate's status. If a probate is not necessary, an affidavit process may be more appropriate. In this process, a person who believes that he or she is due property from the decedent may create a sworn statement (an "affidavit") that lists that property.
Step Three: Settle Claims against the Estate
After the appraisement of the estate is completed, the county clerk will publish a notice of administration of the estate. Creditors have 60 days to file claims owed against the estate after the publication is made. The personal representative may challenge all claims made. If there is not enough money for all debts and taxes, the representative must sell off items of the estate. This is usually done through an estate sale. The probate of a will in WV cannot continue until all taxes and claims are paid.
Step Four: Close the Estate
After the claims are released, the personal representative can contact the county clerk's office to close the estate. Two ways to do this are by a waiver of final settlement or a report of receipts and disbursements. A waiver of final statement requires signatures from all heirs and beneficiaries of the estate. A report of receipts and disbursements is done solely by the representative and is sent to all heirs and beneficiaries where they can either accept the terms or file for objection within ten days.
Who to Call for Help When You Prepare for Probate of a Will in WV
When you're dealing with the loss of a loved one, you need a caring attorney you can trust to help in your time of need. Anna M. Price of Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC is experienced and knowledgeable in handling wills, probate, and all estate planning documents. If you know someone who needs assistance to prepare for probate of a will in WV, contact us today online or call for a free consultation at (304) 523-2100 or toll-free at (866) 617-4736.