The Vital Role of a Probate Attorney
A probate attorney plays an important role in probate proceedings and estate management. But what does this specific type of lawyer do, and how do you know if you need one?
What is Probate?
“Probate” refers to the official process that takes place after someone passes away. Their will must “proved” in court in order to be accepted as a valid legal document, their property and possessions are inventoried and sometimes appraised, any remaining taxes or debts are paid off, and their “estate” (their wealth, as well as personal and real property) is then distributed according to their will.
Before passing, an executor, or “personal representative,” should be selected and stipulated in the will. The executor is not necessarily a beneficiary, but ensures that the deceased’s last will and testament are carried out as they wished – a remarkable responsibility and honor.
What does a Probate Attorney Do?
A probate attorney is specialized to handle legal matters relating to the will and estate of the person who has passed away – also known as the decedent. They work with the executor and beneficiaries of the estate to make sure the process runs smoothly, advising and aiding where necessary.
The probate attorney’s tasks include:
- Preparing and filing the relevant court documents for probate
- Locating, securing, and facilitating evaluations of assets and property
- Assisting with the sale or retitling of the decedent’s property
- Collecting life insurance
- Assisting with tax and debt payments
- Distributing assets and property to beneficiaries
- Negotiating or settling claims of creditors of the decedent and resolving disputes among beneficiaries or between the beneficiaries and the executor.
The probate attorney must be familiar with state laws governing the estate, depending on where the decedent lived at their time of death, and where their property and assets are located. They also need to know the procedure for handling estates for decedents who pass away without a valid will.
Do I need a Probate Attorney?
Nobody wants to dwell on their mortality, and talking about wills, estates, and executors can be incredibly stressful for some. However, proper foresight and planning can actually minimize the stress involved in the probate process for the family of the decedent. It is a complicated legal procedure that requires accuracy and attention to detail. Failure to execute the probate correctly can lead to liability issues.
While you are not required by law to use a probate attorney, probate can be a difficult, time-consuming, and anxiety-inducing process for the surviving family. Selecting a personal representative, hiring a probate attorney, and preparing your will before something happens is beneficial. The probate attorney will ensure that probate is carried out properly, and that the decedent’s will is carried out as per their wishes.
Furthermore, probate attorneys can also serve trust managers. In this role, they can help you make investment decisions, manage your estate, stay up to date with taxes, legal documentation, and financial records, and aid with the preparation of your will and assets.
Whether you are planning for your family’s future, or have experienced a loss and need assistance with probate, the Law firm of Gary I. Handin, P.A. offers compassionate service and advice. Please contact us for more information about our experienced and highly qualified staff.