You may be faced with the difficult task of administering the last will and managing the estate of a loved one. We are both estate planning and probate lawyers and have extensive experience in the administration and planning of estates. This means that we are familiar with probate administration, something most people only do one to three times a year. We are here to share our knowledge on everything, from how to hire a probate lawyer to what the average cost of probate is Probate attorneys.
The Probate Process
Probate refers to the legal process whereby the probate court grants an estate representative the power to represent the estate and act for it. This multi-step process includes:
- Submitting the last will to be reviewed to verify that it meets all state requirements.
- Notifying creditors and heirs of the deceased that the Will was submitted.
- Transferring the assets of the deceased to the estate’s name
- All debts and taxes must be paid.
- Distribution of the estate’s assets to its heirs or beneficiaries.
What Does A Probate Lawyer Do?
A probate lawyer does not work as a general practitioner attorney. Probate attorneys are experts in estate administration and have extensive experience in probate. They are familiar with probate and can help you navigate it all. A probate lawyer can:
- Fill out and submit all necessary paperwork to the court.
- Arrange service to all parties.
- Advice on the next steps.
- You may need to accompany you to court appearances.
- Full-service representation includes advising the Executor about how to represent the estate once they have been appointed.
A Probate Attorney’s Fees
The complexity of your case and the level of representation you choose will determine how much a probate lawyer charges. The amount and value of assets as well as potential conflicts among the heirs will determine the fee. While some states limit the amount that an attorney may charge, others place no restrictions and charge an hourly rate for their services.
A probate lawyer can help you identify estate assets, gather those assets, file final income, and estate tax returns, and pay bills. They can also make final distributions to your heirs. While it is helpful to have professionals assist in this area, you should also know that many of these tasks, such as contacting banks to collect and transfer assets, are ones you can do yourself. By doing the work yourself, you can save your estate money and help them avoid paying high legal fees.
What To Ask From A Probate Lawyer’s Limited Representation?
These estate tasks may not be something you can manage on your own. You may decide that you don’t have the time or desire to handle these estate tasks. If this is the case, it is a good idea to agree with your probate attorney about what you can expect and who will be handling each task. This agreement will avoid duplication of effort at a financial expense to you and your estate as well as prevent critical tasks from getting lost. The probate lawyer should ask you questions about the assets, creditors, and heirs of the deceased during your first meeting. Ask them questions about your duties as executor and any other questions about probate or the estate of your loved one. You can tailor your agreement to the attorney to only include those tasks that you require.