Have you lost a loved one in the recent past? Do you need to handle a probate process, but you don’t know where you begin? Maybe, you are not even sure when the right time to hire a probate lawyer is.
Well, it’s important to understand that a probate process can be complicated—especially when family conflict and taxes come into the picture. However, you shouldn’t fret at all if you find yourself in such a situation.
In this post, we shall discuss probate law. We will let you know what probate law is, how probate law works, and whether you need a probate lawyer.
So, who’s a probate lawyer?
Probate attorneys specialize in the filing of wills or last testaments left behind by a decedent. At times, murky disputes can arise during the disposition of an estate—and this where a probate lawyer comes in. So, we can conclude that a probate attorney is a trust or an estate lawyer.
Most people don’t think about hiring a probate attorney until a family member passes away. When this happens, most people will hurriedly hire a probate lawyer—meaning they didn’t get enough time to look for a professional probate attorney and one who shall best represent their interests.
Probate law is very interesting—it is simple and forthright, but it can also be complex and murky. This, will, however, depend on how the decedent had prepared before they passed away.
Therefore, this shows the essence of having a well-written will. Moreover, the will should be as detailed, and complete as possible. This will ensure that your descendants won’t go through any extra emotional pain when you pass away. Well, this is something that most people don’t like doing. But, what they don’t realize is, it’s the best thing that they can do for their loved ones.
With that said, we can define probate as the process that happens once a person passes away. This process involved taking care of any existing debts, as well as distributing assets. The most interesting thing about the probate process is that it happens, no matter whether or not you left behind a will.
When do you need a probate lawyer?
By now, you have a clear understanding of probate law, and what a probate lawyer does. But, you might still be wondering whether and when you need a probate attorney.
The following are a few scenarios when you need to hire a probate lawyer.
If the estate can pay off all the existing debts
At times, the deceased will leave some substantial debts, like medical bills, income taxes, as well as funeral expenses. Well, you will not need to hire a probate attorney in case the estate has enough funds to clear all outstanding legitimate debts.
However, there are certain scenarios when the estate cannot pay off the outstanding debts. If that’s your case, then you’ll need the services of a probate attorney to assist you in coming up with a strategy that will help you in clearing the debts. Please note—you should never attempt to clear any outstanding debts without consulting a probate attorney first.
In case the estate has unsettled federal estate taxes
Not every estate is supposed to pay estate taxes. However, some states require certain estates, particularly the larger ones to pay federal taxes.
Now, if the estate left behind had unsettled state taxes, you will need a probate lawyer. Probate attorneys are experienced with such cases, and they will assist you in clearing the outstanding taxes.
If the estate has a business
Some estates are very complicated, and so does the administration. Mostly, an experienced executor will not have any challenge when administering an estate with common assets like a bank or brokerage account, house, or personal items.
But, some large estates have one or several businesses, which makes their administration very complicated. In the event you are dealing with such an estate, you will definitely need the services of an experienced probate lawyer. The attorney should assist you in managing, valuing, selling, or transferring the business.
Disagreements among the family members
Any experienced probate lawyer in Orlando knows that any disagreement among the family members is a serious threat when administering an estate.
In fact, a small problem can escalate very fast, and end up derailing the entire process. If a family member is not happy or satisfied with the entire probate process, they can start to challenge the process.
Such scenarios can drain a considerable amount of money from an estate, as well as lead to a lengthy disagreement among the family members. Therefore, you should consider hiring a probate lawyer the moment you realize that there might be a disagreement among the family members.
When time is of essence
When an estate doesn’t file paperwork correctly, the probate process will take a lot of time before it closes. In such a scenario, you will need to hire a probate lawyer.
One thing with probate attorneys is that they are experienced in filling estate documents, which means having one can be of significant value to your case.
Moreover, a professional probate attorney can help in expediting the probate process by evaluating id the estate qualifies for immediate assistance from administration.
Also, an experienced probate attorney will accelerate the probate process by filing the important documents, and ignoring the less important ones.
In case you don’t know the laws governing the succession of property
The probate laws set by the state are written in a complex and difficult language. Thus, it’s hard for someone to understand these laws if they are not conversant with probate laws.
So, if you don’t have a clear understanding of these laws, there’s a possibility that you might be distributing the estate incorrectly.
Also, the language used to draft a will can be pretty simple. In other times, you will need extra legal assistance in case the decedent didn’t have a will or some family members challenge the will. In this case, a probate attorney will assist you to ensure that your interests are protected.
If you need protection from an insolvent estate
At times, your loved one will leave behind more unsettled debts than assets. If that’s your case, a professional probate lawyer will help in reducing any insolvent estate problems that might arise. The lawyer will ensure that the family members won’t incur any unnecessary expenses.
This might include making sure that all the funeral expenses are catered for as well as resolving any possible disagreements with creditors. Besides, an experienced probate attorney will supervise the entire probate process, to make sure that it’s administered in the cheapest way possible.
Important things to do when you hire a probate attorney
A professional probate lawyer will ensure that your probate process is as smooth as possible. However, it’s important to note that you’ll need to prepare adequately for this process to be successful.
The following are a few things that you should do when you hire a probate attorney:
- Ensure that you provide the attorney with all the important documents—like the will, insurance policies, tax returns, as well as deeds.
- Make sure that the attorney answers all your questions early in advance, and keep your communication channels open.
- Keep yourself updated with the case.
Following these tips will ensure that you have a good and professional working relationship with the probate attorney. Besides, an experienced probate attorney will assist you to deal with the probate process, and make the process as stress-free as possible.