When you pass away, someone needs to handle your property.
Usually, it’s a family member or a friend.
They often get help from a probate lawyer to deal with legal matters.
This makes things less stressful.
So, what does a probate attorney do?
This article explains what a probate lawyer does. It also talks about why you might want a lawyer to assist you during the probate process.
What is a Probate Attorney?
Estate lawyers, also known as probate lawyers, help people with legal stuff after someone passes away.
They assist non-lawyers in roles like administrators or executors of estates.
These lawyers can help as much or as little as needed during the process, which involves paying the deceased person’s debts and sharing their belongings according to their wishes or state rules.
What’s the Difference Between a Probate and Estate Planning Lawyer?
Probate and estate planning lawyers deal with stuff related to what happens when someone passes away, but there’s a key difference – timing.
They make the needed legal papers for the court and might even take on the job of managing the person’s estate if there’s no one else to do it.
An estate planning lawyer, however, advises before someone passes away.
They help plan what should happen with a person’s things and create the necessary documents based on what that person wants.
What Does a Probate Lawyer Do?
Here are some things a probate lawyer might help the person in charge (executor) and those inheriting (beneficiaries) with during the probate process:
- Getting money from life insurance policies
- Finding and keeping hold of the stuff the person who passed away owned
- Figuring out how much the person’s properties are worth
- Helping to pay the person’s bills and debts
- Getting all the needed documents ready for the probate court
- Checking if any taxes need to be paid and making sure they get paid
- Sorting out any income tax issues
- Handling the money in the person’s estate bank account
- Giving the things the person owned to the right people
- Giving out the remaining belongings to the inheritors after all the bills and taxes are settled.
Do You Need a Probate Lawyer?
You might not always need to hire a probate lawyer.
In some places, like certain county probate courts, they might say you have to get a lawyer for probate stuff.
The probate court itself can be pretty helpful if you’re the one in charge.
Before spending money on a lawyer, think about these things:
- Does the probate court say you must have a lawyer to start dealing with someone’s estate?
- Have you already dealt with this kind of thing before?
- Can the person’s things be given out without going through probate?
- Is the process in your state pretty straightforward?
- Will the family members work well together?
- Is there enough money in the person’s things to pay off their debts?
You might only need to hire a probate lawyer right away in specific situations.
If you need help later on, you can always find one.
Asking friends or family for a recommendation is a good way to begin.