What is a Probate Attorney?
To get to know what a Probate attorney is, first of all, we should understand what probate means. Probate is the legal process that an individual’s will, belongings, and assets go through after his demise.
As the name suggests, Probate attorneys are legal professionals who have specialized in this field. They assist with part of the probate process and are also known as Estate attorneys or Trust lawyers.
A Probate attorney is known as an Estate attorney when they help a client to plan his estate by drafting his wills, trusts, and power of attorneys, helping the client in family and elder care planning and reducing the inheritance taxes.
What does a Probate Attorney Do?
When an individual passes away, an executor is appointed to handle the distribution of the assets and estate of the person.
The probate lawyer is in a way the legal helper on these cases, and his work will depend on various factors such as How complex the case is, what help the executor needs, whether the deceased had a will or not, whether the estate assets have been identified or not, do the beneficiaries have some legal challenges or not.
The biggest factor in how a probate Attorney will work depends on whether a will was drafted or not.
- If a will was drafted
If a valid signed Will is drafted by the deceased before passing away, then the executor of the will may bring the Probate Attorney as a Guide or consultant to look over the probate process so that the terms of the will are properly executed. If someone challenges the will, then the probate lawyer may represent one of the parties in the litigation.
- If a will was not drafted
In case a will was not drafted by the deceased before his passing away, then the inheritance laws of the state or country decide the inheritance of the assets and estate. The probate lawyer, as well as the administrator provided by the court, then have to distribute the asset and estate according to the state laws regardless of whatever the deceased said or whatever the loved ones say or need.
Role and basic functions of Probate lawyer
Some of the roles and functions of the probate lawyer are as follows
- Find the belongings of the decedent and secure the inventory, personal properties, estate, other assets such as bank account current as well as savings vehicles, etc.
- Identify and collect the policies that the decedent had, like his life insurance policy
- Manage and maintain the estate and its checkbooks
- Get and secure appraisals for the asset of the deceased
- Secure a tax account and file the final tax returns of the deceased and his estate
- Determine the debts the deceased had and validate them. Also, advise on payments of debt.
- Initiating the settlement and disbarment of the asset to the right beneficiaries
- Prepare all the files and documents needed by the probate court for the probate process.
Why does one need a probate lawyer?
A probate lawyer is needed for a smoother probate process. In some cases, the probate lawyer itself has helped the decease draft the will and estate planning, so they have required for proper distribution of assets to the beneficiaries.
On the other hand, one should definitely hire a probate lawyer if he/she has no idea about the probate process.
- If the estate can’t be distributed without a probate
- If family members don’t get along
- If the money is not sufficient to provide as well as settle debts.
Things one should ask from a probate lawyer
If you ever hire a probate lawyer, you should ask them some important questions.
- If probate law is his/her specialization
- His/her experience and how long have they been doing these cases
- How will they charge you
- How will they handle the case personally, or will they give it to some intern?
The content tells us what the probate process is and how a probate attorney works. This article shows how important it is for one to have a will and how the work of a probate lawyer changes accordingly.