Losing a loved one is never easy. Having to deal with the probate process soon after can be extremely confusing for the bereaved. Matters of probate can become more complicated if you take into consideration the taxes that may need to be paid as well as any internal conflict within the family. This is when it’s a good time to consult a probate attorney.
Before enlisting the services of an attorney who specializes in probate law, it’s good to have an understanding of what a probate attorney does, why it’s important to have a legal professional handle matters of probate, and when you need to call a probate attorney for help.
What Do Probate Attorneys Do?
Simply put – A probate attorney will handle all matters related to the processing of the estate of the will of the recently departed.
Keep in mind that each state has different laws with regards to probate, so it is advisable to find a probate attorney versed in your state’s probate laws and procedure. Your attorney will be able to advise the executor of the estate as well as the nominated beneficiaries to ensure that the will of your loved one is carried out and upheld.
There are many different aspects to probate that your attorney will need to handle. This includes verifying the will, calculating the value of the estate, ensuring all taxes and debts are paid, and preparing the necessary papers that need to be submitted to the probate court in order to distribute the estate assets.
Why Is It Important To Have A Legal Professional Handle Probate?
As mentioned earlier, each state has its own laws when it comes to probate laws. Your attorney will not only ensure that everything is legally compliant within the state, but also ensure that the last will and testament is valid. Verifying a will’s validity involves having your attorney ensure your loved one’s will has not been altered or tampered with in any way.
In some instances, an executor that does not get along well with the family is chosen, and in cases like this, the attorney may help by acting as a mediator between the executor and the beneficiaries to ensure that the will is carried out accordingly.
When Do You Need To Call A Probate Attorney?
When it comes to knowing when you need the help of an experienced probate attorney, you will need to ask yourself the following questions.
Can All Debts Be Paid?
Are you 100% certain that the estate can cover all legitimate debts including medical expenses, funeral services, as well as income taxes.
If you make a mistake and the estate does not cover the costs of all taxes and expenses, an attorney will be able to help you decide how to pay and who to pay first. Depending on the state you live in, some creditors may take priority over others.
Can Assets Be Transferred?
If all planning has been done, you may not need to enlist the services of a probate attorney. However, it is always better to err on the side of caution as you do not want to lose your inheritance over a simple mistake that your attorney could have recognized.
Keep in mind that transferring assets outside of probate is possible if your loved one previously met with an estate planning attorney and properly prepared all legal documentation, such as a living trust, ahead of time.
Is Someone Contesting The Will?
While rare, sometimes family disputes over the distribution of the estates will lead them to contest the contents of the will. This means that they believe that the will is invalid. These family members may be inclined to sue with regards to the estate. Things like this can have an adverse impact on the family, which is why it’s important that you have the right legal representative by your side. These drawn-out court battles over the estate only ensures that money is drained from the estate during the process.
Must Federal or State Taxes Be Paid?
The nice thing about smaller estates is that there generally aren’t federal taxes attached to the estate. If the estate is large enough, then these must be paid. In Florida, there is no estate tax unless there is Federal estate tax owed, which is in cases of estates in excess of $10,000,000.00.The limits change each year. Consult with your accounting professional for specific advice.
In some instances, state tax must be paid irrespective of the size of the estate – you will need professional legal advice to file the necessary documentation.
Probate Attorneys In Coral Springs
When a loved one has died and has assets is the right time to enlist the services of a probate attorney. If you have any questions regarding probate, don’t hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Gary I. Handin, P.A. at 1-877-815-4560 or 954-796-9600.