Wanting to contact a lawyer is most likely the last thing on your mind when a loved one passes. However, after a funeral or other practice, it is time to look at their assets and how to disburse them between members of the family. This can easily become a point of conflict in families and that is where a probate lawyer comes into play.
What is a Probate Lawyer?
Much like any lawyer, state-licensed attorney who works with executors and beneficiaries of an estate to settle affairs. Probate can be avoided if all the decedent’s assets have been placed in a trust. However, if that isn’t the case then a probate lawyer can help.
What Probate Lawyers Do
What a lawyer does is going to depend on if the decedent has drafted a will prior to their death
When There is a Will
If someone dies with a will then a probate lawyer can be hired to advise parties, such as the executor of the estate on legal matters. A lawyer can look at the will and make sure that the will wasn’t signed or written under duress, or against the best interest of the individual. Elderly people with dementia, or other mind altering disorders, could be vulnerable to influence by individuals who want a cut of the estate.
While there are many reasons a will can be challenged most go through probate without a problem.
When There is no Will
If there is no written and signed will then that person is said to die intestate. When this happens the estate is disturbed by the intestacy laws of the state in which the property resides, regardless of your wishes. This could mean if the person was married and died with no will, then the surviving spouse receives all the property of the laws of that state.
The laws vary from state to state, which is where a probate lawyer is needed. It would be here that the probate lawyer would be hired to administer the estate and the assets of the passed individual.
The Role of a Probate Lawyer
There are roles that a probate lawyer has in order to best advise an executor or administrator. Here are some of the roles that a probate lawyer can fill:
- Collecting and managing life insurance proceeds
- Appraising the decedent’s property
- Securing all of the decedent’s assets
- Advising how bills and debt should be paid
- Preparing and filing documents required by the probate court
- Managing the estate’s checkbook
- Determining any estate taxes and how to pay them
If you have questions about if you need a lawyer don’t hesitate to reach out and learn more from our team of lawyers today!