One question that few people think about on a daily basis is, “How will I know when I need an estate lawyer?” As we get older, we may find ourselves dealing with the possessions of our deceased relatives. While some cases are fairly straightforward, the advice of an estate lawyer may come in handy. If this situation happens to you, you’ll want legal advice from an attorney with experience in both local probate courts and state law.
Can Your Relative’s Assets Be Transferred without a Probate proceeding?
There are multiple answers to this question, depending on the circumstances. Mainly, the answer depends on how much probate-avoidance the deceased did before death if any. You could transfer the assets to a new owner without the need of probate court, but sometimes assets that are held jointly, or survivorship community properties, don’t need to go through probate. Probate isn’t needed for assets that have a beneficiary named by the deceased, such as with life insurance policies or retirement accounts.
Are There Family Disputes Over The Estate?
Contesting a relative’s will might make for great daytime TV, but it’s actually less common in real life. Still, it’s not unheard of; if a living relative makes mention of suing over an estate, you’ll want to contact a lawyer sooner rather than later. While legal counsel can help, probate lawsuits have a sad tendency to cause huge rifts in families, draining both money and sanity. Save yourself the hardship and hire an estate lawyer to avoid future court battles.
How Complicated Is Your State’s Probate Process?
Depending on the state where your deceased relative lived, there may be some laws in which probate is rather self-explanatory.
Are There Common Assets Within The Estate, Such As A House, Vehicle, Or Other Valuables?
When estates include businesses or commercial real estate, things can get quite complicated. If the asset in question requires long-term handling, you may want to seek legal counsel for help for appraisals or selling. These tasks are complex and shouldn’t be handled by anyone who isn’t deeply familiar with probate law.
Can The Money In The Estate Cover Debt?
You may not have to decide which debts to pay if there is enough money for the will’s beneficiaries, funeral costs, or remaining expenses from a hospital stay. But if there isn’t enough money to cover these debts and taxes, you won’t want to make any payments until you discuss the situation with legal counsel. Creditors are given priority over everything else in state law.
Is The Estate Small Enough To Owe Federal Or State Taxes?
The majority of estates don’t actually owe federal estate taxes, so that’s one less thing to worry about. Chances are, the estate may owe a separate tax to the state where your deceased loved one lived. About 20 states have their own enforced estate taxes that have a value of $1 million, if not larger. If the estate requires filing an estate tax return with the IRS, an estate lawyer may come in handy and save you some future headaches. The State of Florida has no estate tax unless the estate is large enough to owe Federal Estate tax.
Let Our Estate Lawyers Help
When life deals you unexpected circumstances, you may feel lost and overwhelmed, not knowing where to turn. Losing a loved one is hard enough, and worrying about how to handle probate proceedings is the last thing you need on your plate. The estate lawyers at Gary I. Handin, PA., have a long track record of providing personal and professional service, and always at a reasonable price. Your probate matters will be handled quickly and properly, and always with your best interests at heart.
For questions or other concerns, feel free to reach out to an experienced estate lawyer at 954-796-9600.