As the adage goes, you can’t take your money with you when you pass away. That implies that it will need to be handled by someone. That person is often a friend or relative and frequently gets assistance from a probate lawyer.
Estate attorneys or probate lawyers assist non-lawyer individuals in carrying out their duties as executors, personal representatives, or managers of estates. As they navigate the probate procedure, they provide them as much or as little assistance as they need.
The probate procedure includes paying off the decedent’s obligations and allocating the estate’s assets following the will or state law. So, how can experienced probate attorneys help you after your loved one passes away?
What Does a Probate Attorney Do?
A probate attorney is a state-licensed professional who may assist the beneficiaries of an estate or the Executor of a Will (if the deceased chose one). At the same time, they strive to settle an estate by helping them with the probate process. A probate lawyer is capable of doing a wide variety of activities. What the Executor or administrator requires will determine what the probate lawyer accomplishes.
Their duties might often involve locating and cataloging the estate’s assets, comprehending and satisfying any obligations the estate could owe, allocating and settling the estate, and more.
Probate lawyers can assist with the estate planning procedure itself. However, fundamental services like establishing guardianship, drafting a will, or forming a trust often come at a considerable cost.
Probate Procedure When There Is a Will
Suppose the decedent has a final will and testament that was comprehensive, valid, and signed before passing away. In that case, the administrator may retain a probate attorney to assist them as they go through the probate procedure stages under the will’s stipulations. This is a consulting position.
The probate attorney may assist a party in a probate lawsuit if there is a challenge to the will, if a claimant thinks the will is defective, was made under duress, or under the undue influence of someone else.
Someone could seek to challenge being left out of a will. A will might be contested for various reasons, while most “wills” pass probate without incident.
Probate Procedure When There Is No Will
An individual dies “intestate” if they did not leave a valid, written will. In such cases, who inherits is decided by state inheritance laws. These rules might vary per state. For example, a living spouse may be entitled to all or a portion of their dead spouse’s assets, based on their state’s intestate rules.
It’s crucial to remember that both the estate administrator and the probate attorney are required to distribute assets per state intestacy regulations. State law governs the division of estate assets, irrespective of what the dead individual stated while living or how much money certain family members require.
In this case, a probate attorney might assist a loved one in petitioning the court to be appointed as the estate administrator. They could even be employed after the individual has been designated administrator by the probate court judge.
A relative must first get “renunciations” if they intend to administer the inheritance from the deceased’s other family members. A renunciation is a formal declaration that gives up the authority to manage the inheritance.
The administrator may get assistance from a probate attorney with the probate procedure once the attorney helps acquire and submit these declarations to the probate court.
Full-Service Representation of a Probate Attorney
Experienced probate attorneys can help you discover estate assets, collect those assets, record final income and estate tax records, pay debts, and distribute remaining estate assets to descendants if you decide to retain a probate lawyer with a more comprehensive representation model.
You should know that getting expert guidance in this area may be beneficial. However, you may do many of these chores on your own, including calling banks to acquire and transfer assets. Doing part of the job yourself may save yourself and the estate a considerable sum on legal bills.
You should know that lawyers who charge by the hour do so in 15-minute intervals. Therefore, your probate lawyer may charge the estate for any phone calls they make.
Limited Representation of a Probate Attorney
You can determine that you have enough time to tackle these estate-related activities independently. If so, you should set expectations with your probate attorney and decide who will be responsible for particular chores.
During your first consultation, the probate lawyer should ask questions concerning the decedent’s assets, creditors, and heirs. This will avoid duplication of work, which will cost you and the estate money, and ensure that crucial chores aren’t overlooked. You need to have some inquiries of your own, nevertheless.
Experts advise that you ask them to inform you of what will be expected of you as the Executor and ask any additional questions you may have about the probate procedure and your loved one’s estate. Therefore, such questions will make it easier for you to customize your agreement with the lawyer to cover the things you need help with in a limited representation model.
Why Should You Hire Experienced Probate Attorneys?
Your need for a probate attorney will rely on various circumstances and considerations. You should think about topics like:
- How complex are the laws in your state?
- Which kind of estate plan did the deceased establish?
- Did the deceased have a will, a trust, or both?
- How big is the estate, exactly?
- Are there any tense connections amongst beneficiaries?
- How complex are the beneficiary arrangements and assets?
All of these factors will influence your judgment on whether or not you need knowledgeable assistance. So, can you handle probate without legal counsel? Absolutely. Although you may usually handle the probate procedure on your own, there are situations when an estate is too intricate or large not to think about hiring a lawyer. If you don’t wish to go through the probate process alone, think about hiring a team of experienced probate attorneys.