My relative passed away a few weeks ago due to the virus and left behind a will. How do I initiate probate with the current lockdown in my state?
The coronavirus has caused tough times in peoples’ lives, work environments, and businesses. Everything seems to have assumed a new turn, and access to justice has also become difficult. The cancellation of physical court proceedings has posed a great challenge to estate attorneys and their clients.
During the pandemic, most courts in most states have remained closed except for urgent cases. This interruption has delayed most procedures associated with estate administration, such as validation of petitions, assigning executors and personal representatives, and payment of debts and taxes.
Some court workers are still reporting to work, and you may be able to initiate the process. However, you may need to wait longer due to several reasons:
- Approval of requisite documents may not be immediate.
- Long queues as more people die due to the virus, resulting in more probate cases.
- Challenging weeks or months ahead as the pandemic continues to affect more areas of the state
Most state probate courts have issued supplementary instructions that residents can follow to ensure the probate procedures are ongoing. The instructions are continuously updated as the virus causes a change of status. For instance, there are states where probate matters can be filed online or through email as directed by the courts.
Some are allowing individuals to append electronic signatures to the requisite documents instead of presenting them to a clerk in the physical court. Even with the pandemic on, a “probate attorney near me 11415” will assist you to handle the process.
In-person hearings have also been suspended except for urgent cases that cannot be handled telephonically. Such cases are conducted virtually, and those that are still difficult to resolve are postponed until further notice.
The probate court will determine which matters to be treated as emergencies and those that can wait.
During the process, attorneys, trustees as well as any parties involved in the cases may encounter the following situations: