When someone passes away, the family or other loved ones of the deceased, or the estate executor, may need to hire a probate lawyer. Before experiencing their first death, many people are unaware of how this process works or what a probate lawyer can actually do. We want to offer a brief guide to help explain. Keep reading to learn about probate attorneys, probate law, and how they relate to the death of a loved one.
What Is a Probate Lawyer?
When someone passes away, there’s a legal process involved to determine how the deceased’s assets will be distributed. Before the will (if one exists), a court will determine debts, taxes, fees, and more.
A probate lawyer (like the talented lawyers at Bezaire, Ledwitz & Associates) is an attorney who manages this process and assists the administrator or executor of the estate with several tasks.
What Does a Probate Lawyer Do?
The job of a probate lawyer depends on a few factors. They can do a few tasks regardless of the situation, such as appraising the estate, collecting life insurance and assets, giving notice to creditors, settling debt, and filing any necessary documents.
Their tasks start to differ when the deceased has a will or not having a will.
When There’s a Will
If there’s a will, the probate lawyer can help with several things. Some people think you don’t need a lawyer when there’s a will, but this isn’t true.
If anyone contests the will, a probate lawyer will try to avoid a legal battle. A probate lawyer also makes sure that the will was legal, meaning that it wasn’t forged, signed when the deceased wasn’t in a clear state of mind, or signed under duress. If it was signed under duress, they could help determine the next steps.
Then they can help the executor of the will distribute assets to their respective parties.
When There’s No Will
When there’s no will, the process is more complicated and includes more legal hurdles. This is when a probate attorney is crucial.
When someone dies intestate (meaning without a will), the assets are distributed based on state intestate laws. These vary, but they don’t bend to the will of the beneficiaries.
When someone decides that they want to be the estate administrator, they have to get the other family members to renounce their rights to administer the estate. There’s a legal process and a few documents involved, and a probate lawyer helps this run smoothly.
Are You In Need of a Probate Lawyer?
Regardless of whether or not the deceased had a will, a probate lawyer is important if you want the process to run without a hitch. In any situation where the deceased passed with debts, without a will, or with a will that may not be legal, a probate lawyer can help. For more answers to all of your legal questions, visit the rest of our site.