What is a Probate Attorney?
A probate lawyer is a qualified attorney who helps clients decide how to protect their assets after they pass away. This could involve making plans for the distribution of their assets, setting up a trust and choosing a family member to serve as the trustee, or guiding surviving family members through the probate procedure after a loved one passes away.
In essence, a probate lawyer assists clients in putting their financial affairs in order before passing away and works to ensure that their last wishes are carried out after death.
What does a Probate Attorney do?
Probate lawyers assist executors as they navigate the probate process. The process is governed by the laws of the state in which the decedent was a resident at the time of death and any additional states in which they owned property. Whether a person passed away testable or intestate affects the estate administration process. Intestate refers to death without a will or estate plan, whereas testate denotes the presence of a last will and testament.
Beneficiaries of an estate may also receive advice from probate attorneys on various issues brought up by the executor during the probate procedure. If the beneficiary and executor don’t get along, this situation might happen. Probate attorneys may also focus on particular lawsuits that concern the decedent’s estate. They are referred to as an estate litigator, estate and trust litigator, or probate litigator in these circumstances.
- Figuring out any estate tax liabilities and contributing to their payment.
- Assisting with the sale of any estate assets.
- Transferring property to beneficiaries.
- Facilitating the valuation of the deceased’s property.
- Taking care of the estate’s finances.
- Finding and distributing assets on an Executor’s behalf.
- Giving legal counsel regarding powers of attorney.
- Resolving conflicts between beneficiaries and the executor.
- Planning living trusts or wills with you.
- Assisting in the estate’s property sale.
- Obtaining and distributing life insurance payouts.
- Advising clients on how to pay any outstanding debt or final bills.
- Assembling all the paperwork required for the probate court.
How to become a Probate Attorney?
You must fulfill a number of requirements to become a probate attorney. Your chances of landing a job in this industry can be improved by knowing how to acquire the education, skills, and experience required for this profession. Follow these actions to become a probate attorney:
Earn a bachelor’s degree
Get a bachelor’s degree from a university that has been accredited. If you want to practice probate law, you must have this undergraduate degree in order to enroll in law school. Think about obtaining a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology, or political science.
Maintaining a high GPA will help you stay competitive as a law school applicant. Additionally, if you intend to ask your professors for a letter of recommendation for your law school applications, keep a close relationship with them.
Prepare and ace the law school entrance exam (LSAT)
Invest time in your LSAT preparation. Studying thoroughly beforehand can help you become more exam-ready and improve your chances of getting into law school. Then take the LSAT and pass it.
Enroll in law school
Get your Juris Doctor by attending law school. Attend a law school that offers a clinical program for estate attorneys. Family law, estate planning, trusts, and asset management are all topics you could study in an estate law program.
Consider pursuing a master’s in law or a certificate in legal studies if your school offers them. However, these take an extra year or two to finish, but they give you even more tax and estate planning knowledge. Also, think about gaining more estate planning expertise through internships or mentorships.
Pass the bar exam in your state
You must pass the state bar exam in order to practice law, and remember that a lot of bar exams demand that you have a thorough understanding of the legal system.
Learn about the Uniform Probate Code
After passing the State Bar exam, you are qualified to start working as a probate lawyer. However, the uniform probate code provides you with the necessary knowledge regarding the limitations and will enable you to practice legally in your state. Moreover, each state has a uniform probate code, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the one that governs your practice area.
Become a member of a trade association
Find a local estate law association to expand your network. A national organization is another option, and thus, both enable networking with other estate attorneys. You might meet people who can help you find a job or contacts in your industry through networking, whereas these connections may help you increase your clientele. A professional association can help you better serve your clients and keep you informed about the most recent developments in estate law, in addition to networking opportunities.
A probate lawyer generally assists in the resolution of disputes involving estate planning and asset management. As a lawyer, you can assist families in making funeral plans in the event that a loved one passes away. A career as a probate attorney can be very rewarding but requires years of education.