Losing a loved one can be one of the most challenging times in your life. As you process your loss, you also need to take care of legal matters such as finding their will and distributing their property and other belongings as per their wishes. Getting a little outside help can go a long way in alleviating your stress here. Among other things, you can hire a probate lawyer to make the process easier. Read on as we discuss what does a probate lawyer do and how you can benefit from hiring one.
What Does a Probate Lawyer Do?
Before we discuss what does a probate lawyer do, let’s take a moment to understand the word ‘probate’ and what it means. Probate refers to the process of executing the will of a deceased person and distributing their estate (their home, car, cash-based investments, retirement accounts, land, etc.) as per their wishes. If there is no will in place, then their assets can be disbursed according to state laws.
A probate lawyer helps facilitate the probate process. These are attorneys licensed by the state. They work with the executor and the beneficiaries of the will to ensure the estate goes to the rightful heirs. Some of the things they can help you with include:
- They can submit the deceased’s Last Will and Testament for review and ensure that it aligns with the state’s requirements for a valid will.
- Once they have submitted the Last Will, they can inform the will’s executor and beneficiaries about the submission.
- The probate attorney will also oversee the probate process and ensure the transfer of ownership of all assets to the relevant beneficiaries.
- The probate attorney will manage the finances of the estate, take care of all debts, and file all relevant taxes.
- In the final step, the probate attorney will oversee the distribution of assets to the relevant beneficiaries and heirs.
What Are The Benefits of Hiring a Probate Lawyer?
Now that you understand what does a probate lawyer do, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of hiring one. Some of the advantages of seeking assistance from a probate attorney include:
1. You Can Save Time and Avoid Personal Liability
If you are the executor of a will, hiring a probate lawyer can save you from a host of problems. They can help you avoid any errors in identifying and categorizing assets, preparing reports, paying debtors, and distributing assets to the heirs.
If you do this on your own, you could make a mistake, which can create problems for you. It can also delay the distribution of assets.
As we mentioned when discussing what does a probate lawyer do, they can also oversee other details in the probate process and save you time. There’s no predicting how long this process can take. However, if you have a probate lawyer by your side, you can expect it to complete more quickly. A probate lawyer can fill out forms correctly, obtain signatures from the parties involved, and file the necessary documents on time. Streamlining these things can also save you from a headache or two.
2. You Can Reduce Costs
According to a report, Americans can spend up to $2 billion on probate costs. Some of these costs result from hiring a probate attorney. However, having a probate attorney on board can also help you avoid certain expenses. As we mentioned earlier, these attorneys can assist you in paying the deceased’s lenders and filing relevant estate taxes.
For example, let’s suppose the deceased individual owned a house and there is a mortgage on the property. In this case, the probate lawyer can assist your family in managing mortgage payments. This can allow you to avoid any penalties on nonpayment. The same applies to tax filings.
3. You Can Avoid Disputes
Executing the Last Will and Testament of a deceased family member is an emotional process. Any disputes between the family members can prove disruptive here. It can also create a great deal of tension.
Having a probate attorney allows you to work with an objective party with no personal stake in the situation. You can work with them to resolve any difference of opinion and carry out the deceased’s wishes.
4. You Can Protect the Estate From Claims
Family members aren’t the only people who can dispute a will. There are other defendants, as well, who can make claims. For instance, lenders and creditors may ask for payment. A probate attorney can investigate all claims and make sure they are valid.
They can counter any unjust claims and help protect the value of the deceased’s assets. This is particularly important because it helps make sure the rightful beneficiaries can receive the maximum value of an asset.
To understand this better, let’s suppose that a beneficiary is meant to receive assets valued at $300,000. However, if someone files a claim for $150,000, you may be required to use a portion of the deceased’s assets to make payment. In such cases, the beneficiary could stand to lose 50% of their inheritance. Identifying invalid claims can prevent this from happening.
Wrapping It Up
We hope this blog proved useful in understanding what does a probate lawyer do. Remember, matters of inheritance can tear families apart. If you have someone to supervise the process, it can prevent too many interpersonal problems from occurring and allow the probate process to complete more smoothly.
A probate attorney can also ensure the process completes more quickly and doesn’t face unnecessary delays. Moreover, you can stay on top of other issues such as debt payments and tax filings. You can also protect the deceased’s estate from invalid claims and make sure the will is executed as per their wishes. If you would like to locate an attorney in your area, the American Bar Association has a directory for each state under the heading “Wills and Probate”.
Keep following US Will Registry for more articles on Last Will and Testaments and other relevant tools. If you have prepared a Will, you can also get it registered on our website. If something happened to you, your family members could easily locate it. Click here to learn more.