The crushing anguish that follows the death of a loved one does not fade away with time. Despite this, one must carry on with their life, including dealing with the legal process known as probate.
The process of managing the deceased’s assets according to the will or other estate planning documents created by the deceased person is called probate.
However, if a loved one dies without leaving a will, the process of probate can become extremely difficult to navigate on its own. Knowing the answer to the question “Where can I find a probate attorney?” can help resolve issues arising during the probate process.
These issues may include attempting to designate beneficiaries and arguing over the distribution of an inheritance.
What Is A Probate Lawyer?
There are typically two categories of attorneys who specialize in probate law. Probate litigators represent clients in court cases involving the administration of the probate process, while transactional probate attorneys focus on the legal aspects of the probate process.
Although some attorneys can practice in both areas, the vast majority are experts in either one or the other.
If a loved one passed away not too long ago and all you want to do is get the probate process started, you should look into hiring a transactional probate attorney. Attorneys specializing in trusts and estate planning may also be skilled at handling transactional probate issues.
On the other hand, you should look for a litigator if you intend to contest the will, if you are dissatisfied with how the executor or the existing attorney is managing the probate process, or if you anticipate any other kind of legal conflict with the estate.
You should seek the services of a lawyer who is experienced in handling probate cases regularly but who also has sufficient knowledge in other areas of law to query if the action being done might be influenced by any other subsets of the legal system.
For instance, if the deceased individual had a significant amount of real estate assets, the attorney should also have some knowledge of the laws about real property.
Responsibilities Of A Probate Lawyer
Before you choose a lawyer to handle your estate, you must discuss your requirements and reach a consensus on the extent of engagement you desire. Probate lawyers may provide numerous different forms of aid.
You might want a probate lawyer who will handle all elements of the probate process for you, or you might prefer one who will merely make themselves available to answer questions. In contrast, you handle the paperwork and distribution of assets independently. Either way, you have options.
Who Secures A Probate Lawyer?
When a person passes away, they are designated to act as the executor or administrator of their estate. This responsibility typically falls on the surviving spouse, the children, the parents, and the siblings.
The will of the individual who has passed away specifies who will be the executor of their inheritance. In case there’s no will, the state will appoint an administrator. Every state has its standards that determine who can fill the administrator role.
The court has the authority to disregard the will and choose an alternate executor in certain circumstances. If the individual meets any of the criteria below, state laws may make it illegal for them to serve as the executor of the will:
- If he had a business relationship with the deceased
- Is under the age of 18
- Is convicted of a serious crime
- Live out of state
As soon as they have been selected, the executor or administrator is responsible for determining whether or not the estate administration will require a probate lawyer’s assistance. If the executor or administrator does not choose to fulfill this role, they have the option to decline, and in that event, the court will name someone else.
In most cases, the estate assets are used to pay the probate lawyer’s costs. Because these expenses are deducted from the assets before the assets are divided, the estate executor will not have their share of the inheritance reduced solely by the number of the lawyer’s fees.
The Benefits Of Hiring A Probate Lawyer
The procedure of probate can be difficult, especially if the dead person has left behind a sizeable fortune. When the probate process is over, the executor or administrator of the estate must submit a final report of everything they did about the estate.
This involves a comprehensive account of all assets obtained and invoices paid for. Maintaining an accurate accounting of gains and losses on sales and a record of the final distribution of any cash left over is essential.
When a probate lawyer represents the executor or administrator has additional protection regarding these documents. If legal advice is not sought, the executor or administrator will bear complete responsibility for any mistakes in filing these documents.
An experienced estate planning attorney will ensure that all accounting matters are handled appropriately, and in more complex circumstances, they may even consult with an external accounting company.
A probate lawyer’s objectivity is another benefit when dealing with the estate. For individuals close to the deceased, the passing of a family or other loved one can be difficult and upsetting.
A probate lawyer can take a step back from the heightened emotions that others are dealing with and deliver a neutral and unbiased judgment in any disagreements that may emerge.
Finding The Attorney Who’s A Good Fit For You
It’s possible that locating a local attorney who is knowledgeable and skilled in handling a probate court process is not the most difficult part of choosing the correct counsel. Most cases involving probate are not difficult; nonetheless, they require meticulous attention to detail, but you do not need to be a courtroom superstar.
The majority of estate administrations are comprised nearly completely of administrative paperwork. Also, if you are interviewing attorneys who have been personally suggested to you by friends or other area professionals, you can assume that they are qualified in their field.
However, a successful working relationship with an attorney requires more than a strong understanding of the law. Pay close attention to how well the lawyer listens to your concerns, how clearly the lawyer describes the process, and how respectful the lawyer is.
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