Susan Brazas

Attorney at Law

Wills and Probate

Two types of legal work that are interwoven are Wills and Probate. A will is a legal document by which persons designate, in writing, how they wish for their property to be distributed, and to whom, upon their death.

People can be tempted to find or buy a “Do-It-Yourself Will” to save the cost of hiring an attorney to prepare a will for them. This is a risky venture, as every state’s laws are different, and very particular, as to the legal requirements for a will to be considered a valid legal document. Among the many specifics are the number of witness signatures required, the required format and contents of notarization, and even the proper language within the text of the will.

A will may be subject to challenge, through a “will contest” proceeding in court. Any interested person can claim that the will is invalid because of improper form, inadequate or improper witnessing or notarization, undue influence, or incompetence. A will contest can be a lengthy and difficult process involving extensive testimony and evidence.

“Probate” is the process of court involvement in the distribution of a deceased person’s property either according to a will or, if there is no valid will, according to the laws of intestacy. Many specific procedures must be followed, including obtaining the appointment of an Executor or Administrator of the Estate, publication of Notice to Creditors, notification of heirs, and preparation of a Final Accounting and Closing Statement.