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Wills and Probate Lawyers
If you're handling the estate of a friend or loved one who's died, you may be wondering if you need the help of a probate lawyer. This article will explain when you should hire a probate attorney and how a lawyer can help you.
What Does A Probate Lawyer Do
A probate lawyer is an attorney who has experience with the probate code, inheritance laws and estate tax laws. The attorney can help the executor of an estate:
- Read and understand the will
- Work with the probate court or register of wills to get the will admitted to probate
- File any necessary paperwork with the probate court, financial institutions and the IRS
- Appear in court, if necessary
- Administer the estate, including notifying beneficiaries, paying creditors and distributing assets
- Answer questions from people who are beneficiaries to the will
- Changing titles on property and transferring assets
- Ensuring taxes are paid
How Can A Probate Attorney Help
Serving as executor of an estate can be a complicated process. In addition, you may have little experience handling probate-related legal issues. Are you familiar with the probate, inheritance and tax laws? Since a wills and probate lawyer has extensive experience handling these very issues, he can serve as your guide and advisor through the process.
The job of executor can also be a time-consuming one. A probate lawyer can handle some of the more complicated or emotionally difficult tasks for you.
It's important to know that in most states, a probate lawyer's fees are paid by the estate. As executor or personal representative, you are not personally responsible for these legal fees. However, confirm that this is the case when you hire your aattorney. And, of course, make sure the estate can afford to hire a lawyer.
When To Hire A Probate Lawyer
If you are executor of an estate, you should hire a probate lawyer as soon as possible, or as soon as you need one.
Depending on the state in which the deceased lived and owned property, there may be a deadline by which to probate the will. Unreasonable delays can cause problems for you as executor and for the estate. If you want a lawyer to help you probate the will, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible.
If you're comfortable working with the probate court, but want to hire a probate lawyer to answer specific questions or handle certain tasks, you should hire the attorney as soon as you have a specific need.
Serving as executor of an estate is a big responsibility. It requires patience, attention to detail, legal and financial know-how, and diplomacy skills during what can be an emotionally difficult period. A probate lawyer can help address the legal issues while also making the probate process run more smoothly.