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What Is A Probate Lawyer – A Complete Guide

31 May, 2021


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As the old saying goes – you have come to this world alone without any assets; so, when you leave this world, you have to go alone, leaving all the assets you have earned in your lifetime.

When you die, all your property needs to be disbursed in a consistent way in which it follows the state laws and aligns with your wishes when you were still alive. It is a legal process where you need probate lawyers to help you out with your property disbursement.

What Is A Probate Lawyer?

A Probate lawyer is also known as a trust lawyer, Will lawyers, or estate lawyer. They are professionals that take care of your property disbursement and help the estate’s executors manage the probate process.

They play an important role in consulting the individuals with the Will or estate planning. A probate lawyer is responsible for drafting wills, living trusts, offer consultation over a power of attorney, and even serve as the executor of the estate.

What Does A Probate Lawyer Do?

Among all the responsibilities that a probate lawyer might have, they have to majorly represent their clients in court proceedings. 

They represent the client through the whole probate process. Your probate lawyer, commonly known as an estate or trust lawyer, plays quite an important role in the management of the probate process. 

They look into the small and major aspects of the administration of estates after the death of the owner. someone passes away.

An individual usually gets in touch with a probate lawyer to plan ahead. The lawyer understands the unique circumstances of each case and comes up with a comprehensive estate plan. This plan can include wills, trusts, or any other relevant legal documents. All of these documents ensure a safe and proper distribution of property.  

The court appoints a person to carry out an evaluation of assets after the death of a person. However, even your probate attorney can help you to identify and evaluate your assets. Not just real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, and debts all of it can go through the process of evaluation. 

The probate process includes the filing of necessary documents with the probate court. Your probate attorney will take care of that for you. They are qualified to draw wills, file petitions for probate, and even create an inventory of assets.

It is the job of your probate attorney to send out legal notices to the beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors of the maker of the will. They are the ones who are responsible for the initiation of the probate process after the testator passes away. A probate attorney even manages creditor claims that exist on the estate. They conduct in-depth reviews and see if the claims are valid. It is also their duty to notify the beneficiaries and heirs about the legitimate debts on the estate.

When someone raises a question on the validity of the will, they can help you out. If there are disputes regarding the estate, a probate attorney will represent you in court to defend the will. 

What Does A Probate Lawyer Do When There Is A Will?

In case of an individual dies, leaving a Will behind. A probate attorney is hired to guide the estate executor or offer their valuable advice to third parties. The responsibility of the probate attorney will be to go through the will and need to ensure that the will is executed correctly.

On occasions where someone challenges the will, the probate attorney will represent the rights and interests of the client. It is their job to handle all aspects of a court trial.

What Does A Probate Lawyer Do When There Is No Will?

If you die without leaving a written will or signing any will, it states that you have died in “intestate”. So what is this Intestate?

Intestate: Intestate is a legal term that signifies that an individual has died without leaving an official written Will. When a person dies without having a written document on how to handle his/her estate, the case goes in the hands of the probate court, and the court decides the disbursement of the property.

What happens when an individual dies without a Will?

When there is no legal heir to the property, probate courts decide to distribute the property among the family members, regardless of their wishes. For instance, the first person who will consider the legal heir will be your spouse and then your children.

However, if a relative wants to have a piece of your property, they must secure renunciation from the descendants of the other relatives. A Renunciation is a legal document that gives you the right to administer the estate.

Role Of A Probate Lawyer

The major role of a probate attorney is to guide their client through the probate processes. A probate process can be as simple as just handing over the property according to the Will to equal disbursement of the property without any Will.

Depending on the complexity of the probate process, the responsibility of a probate attorney can vary from handling simple paperwork, keeping track of the important dates, and representing the client in the court hearings.

The following is a list of responsibilities a probate attorney might need to perform.

  • Managing life insurance proceedings.
  • Getting the property appraised.
  • Securing the decedent’s assets.
  • Managing estates’ checkbook.
  • Determining the state taxes.
  • Preparing estate paperwork.

Difference Between Probate Lawyer And Estate Lawyer

There is hardly any difference between the two. Both probate attorneys and estate attorneys’ targeted practice area is the same with a very thin layer of difference which is very hard to notice. We have already talked about a probate lawyer; understanding the estate lawyers might give you a better perspective.

  • What Is An Estate Lawyer?

An estate attorney is a legal professional trained in the passing of the property from one hand to another. They mostly offer their knowledge to the individuals looking for legal professionals who might help them with the Will creation.

After gouging through the definition, most people might ask us that despite being different names, they are the same. And that’s what we stated at the beginning. But at the same time, we also stated that they do have a thin layer of separation. This is what it looks like.

A probate attorney mostly handles the process of the private after the person dies. On the other hand, an estate attorney works with the living client to forge a Will or an estate plan implemented once the client dies.

Question To Ask Your Probate Lawyer

Perhaps probate lawyers are the least needed lawyers in the legal industry. They are only being called when a family loses one of its members, and they need to guide through the probate process. This is why only a few people know how to choose a good probate lawyer for your case.

In that context, we have come here with a set of questions that will help you understand your probate attorney.

Q1: What Other Areas Of Law They Practice? 

The legal industry is filled with different niches. Some lawyers practice immigration laws, while some criminal law. When you meet with a probate lawyer, you must ask them about their area of expertise.

While hiring a probate attorney, it is important to know their background. Our experience states that lawyers who do not practice probate laws or state laws are not good in the courtroom with the undergoing probate processes.

Q2: Do They Have Experienced Similar Cases Like Yours In The Past?

Perhaps, this is the most important question you can ask your probate lawyer. It ensures that you are working with the right lawyers who are confident in bringing the best results for your case.

Yes, we do understand that each case is different and bore different results; knowing the fact that the probate attorney you are working with has experience handling cases like yours gives you peace of mind.

Q3: What Potential Issues Might Surface Up In Your case?

Talk with your probate attorney and ask them what they think about your case and what other nuisance you might experience during the process. Knowing the information in advance will help you handle your cases more effectively.

How Much Does A Probate Lawyer Charge?

Probate attorney costs are standard in all the states. In fact, all the other fees are also pre-determined. To better understand the probate attorney fees structure, the following might help you.

Why Do I Need To Hire A Probate Lawyer?

Probate is the process where the estate gets handled when someone dies without leaving a legal document or heir to their property. When there are estates without a legal guardian, it falls in the hands of the probate court once the owner dies. The probate court decided to equally distribute the assets among the family members.

This is where a probate lawyer is needed. They use their knowledge in the probate laws and help with the process of administering the estates. The lawyers take control of the process and ensure that the property is distributed according to the will. And if there is no will, distributed equally.

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