You may hear a lot of information about attorneys and their particular niches. Personal injury lawyers aim to recover damages for your medical needs. Criminal defense lawyers also defend your rights when charged with a criminal offense. And then there are probate lawyers. The word probate may not ring a bell, but it is essential in our society. So the critical question is, what does a probate lawyer do?
When a person dies, and their death is not due to a natural phenomenon, there are laws on distributing their assets. In this case, a probate lawyer will play an essential role in ensuring that those entitled to the assets (otherwise known as the estate) receive what they deserve.
Some of the important things that probate lawyers do are the following:
- Identifying estate assets and making an inventory of the assets and liabilities of the deceased person;
- Seek out all heirs and other beneficiaries who are entitled to inherit;
- Ensure that the legal heirs receive what they deserve and reduce any expenses incurred along the probate process;
- Provide legal advice to the heirs about their rights in the estate;
- Prepare and file for the probate court to finalize the estate; and
- Provide legal advice regarding estate planning and serve as an estate administrator.
Defining What a Probate Lawyer Is
It is also important to know what probate law is all about defining a probate lawyer. Probate law is all about the process of administering a deceased person’s estate. Probate law aims to properly distribute the deceased person’s assets to the heirs and creditors who have pending claims against the deceased person. This branch of law concerns succession, which is the distribution of the estate to its rightful beneficiaries.
Probate lawyers are in charge of the process of administering the deceased person’s properties and assets. The probate lawyer has to make sure that the information provided by the heirs and creditors is accurate. Probate cases are costly and time-consuming, so it is important to work with a lawyer who has ample experience dealing with such cases.
Here’s What a Probate Lawyer Can Do for You
There are two kinds of succession: Testate and Intestate. When a family member dies, you’ll need a probate lawyer to manage the distribution of assets in these two kinds of successions.
When There’s a Will
When the deceased person, or what the law calls the decedent, was able to write and execute a document containing the manner of distribution of all his assets, then such document is called a will. When the succession involves a will, then it is called testate succession.
In a testate succession, a probate lawyer can help the assigned personal representative proceed with administering the deceased person’s estate. The probate lawyer shall ensure the fulfillment of the provisions stated in the will. A probate lawyer would know the steps to carry out the settlement of the estate within the allowable time frame. A probate lawyer can also settle disputes through mediation or arbitration proceedings if there are disputes.
When There’s No Will
When the decedent leaves no will, then such kind of succession is called intestate succession. This kind of succession can be more challenging since no one would have specific proof of how the decedent intends to distribute his estate. Thankfully, probate laws provide a set of guidelines that help distribute the assets to the heirs. A probate lawyer can do all of these legally and professionally.
A probate lawyer can file a probate case which would initiate the distribution of assets. The case can be settled through arbitration or mediation proceedings if necessary. A probate lawyer can also provide expertise to help distribute the assets within a lesser time frame since there’s no evidence of how the assets shall be distributed.
Know When to Hire a Probate Lawyer
The need for a probate lawyer does not always arise in every case of succession. If the family members can agree to distribute the estate based on the will and fair circumstances, there is no need for a lawyer.
In determining the need to hire a lawyer, it is important to take note of the following questions:
- Are there any disputes between the heirs regarding the proper interpretation of the will?
- Did the decedent leave a will for the proper distribution of the estate?
- Is there a petition for probate that needs to be filed with the local probate court?
- How is the estate going to be administered?
- Are there creditors filing a claim for the estate?
A probate lawyer is the best person to consult with when you have these questions.
Probate Lawyers’ Typical Service Fee
The legal fees of a probate lawyer depend on the complexity of the case. The service fee might be a flat fee or an hourly rate. A typical service fee for probate lawyers is between $100 and $1250 per hour, depending on the case’s location, the complexity of the matter, and the lawyer’s experience level.
This is why it is important to know the attorney’s experience level before agreeing to use their services. Know the questions to be asked to save time and money.
A Probate Attorney Can Offer Full Representation
A probate attorney is not just there to give you information and tell you what to do during the probate process. A probate attorney offers full representation, from filing the initial petition to collecting the decedent’s assets, selling the property if necessary, paying estate taxes, and ensuring everything is done according to law.
Such full representation is done in a professional attorney-client relationship that provides legal services with integrity, competence, and efficiency. A probate attorney makes sure that family members have less to worry about and are focused on mourning the loss of their loved one.
The probate process is not an easy one to take on by yourself. Instead, it is best to let a professional handle the entire process and make sure everything is according to law. So do not hesitate to avail yourself of the services of a probate attorney.
Probate Attorneys Can Offer Unbundled Services
Availing the services of probate attorneys tends to be costly. There are instances where you pay more for the services that are not needed based on your circumstances. Often, we think that a probate attorney is there for everything, and as a result, you are bound to pay for legal services that are not needed.
This is the importance of unbundled services or limited representation. A probate attorney may offer unbundled services that allow clients to save costs and only avail themselves of their services.
An unbundled service is a legal service that pertains to only a particular legal service. For example, the legal service is unbundled if you only want to avail of estate administration services.
Probate attorneys offer unbundled services even if they are not mandatory under the law since it allows clients to avail needed services without spending on those not.
Ways to Save Money When Using a Probate Lawyer
Be Mindful of Deadlines
The deadlines are crucial when it comes to hiring a probate lawyer. If you do not meet the court’s deadline, it can automatically nullify your claim to whatever estate or property is involved in the case. Not only that, but there may also be legal consequences when it comes to missed deadlines.
Some examples of these limits include the amount of time that the probate lawyer has to work on your case. You can also set limits on how much money they are allowed to charge you, including the cost of filing fees, court costs, and other expenses. Focusing too much on one aspect of a certain estate could completely neglect other areas.
Never Go in Blind
It is also important to do your homework. With the availability of information now, people may do some research on their own that way, and it is possible to find out what you should expect when hiring a probate lawyer. Of course, do not just take everything at face value. Remember that the internet is full of misinformation, so always check before using any information as a reference.
Be Mindful of Time
Acknowledge that your conversation with a probate attorney is in a professional setting. You are being charged by the hour, so you must remember that every minute counts.
Questions to Ask a Probate Lawyer Before Hiring One
The following are some of the important questions that you should ask a probate attorney before deciding to hire one:
- How many years of experience do you have in handling probate cases? This factor is an important question since you have to know whether an attorney can understand your circumstances and may be able to help you with the probate proceedings.
- What other fields of law do you practice? An attorney that has experience in practicing other fields of law may help you in more cases. Another good experience is their focus on handling specific probate cases. This is also a form of inquiry regarding other concerns that may arise.
- Did you encounter other cases that have similar circumstances as mine? This question can also determine whether an attorney is good at handling cases like yours. This can also provide you with an idea of whether the probability of success is high or low.
- How much do you charge? Another follow-up question would be, “Do you offer unbundled services?” These questions could be some of the important ones to ask. After learning about an attorney’s experience, it is also important to determine their rates. An experienced attorney who has a success rate may charge more.
Do You Need to Hire a Probate Lawyer?
A lot of factors determine the need to hire a probate lawyer. Family members should ask more precise questions before hiring a probate lawyer. Some of these questions include:
- Is there a necessity for a probate process?
- Is there a will in place for this estate?
- Is the deceased’s estate an asset that is subject to probate?
If your answer is yes to all these questions, you might need to hire a probate lawyer. There can be no need for a probate attorney if the deceased’s estate is not subject to probate. Hiring a probate attorney can expedite the distribution of the decedent’s estate, but there is a tendency for legal fees to be paid.
It is best to consult with a probate attorney first through their free consultation. Do your homework and make sure that you hire a competent attorney if you feel the need to hire a probate lawyer.
Finding a Probate Attorney Near Me | Speak to a Probate Lawyer to Know More About the Probate Process
If you need a legal professional to handle managing paperwork, documents, and other legal matters for you, speak with a probate attorney. The death of a loved one can be overwhelming and involves a lot of legal matters. You can be lost in the details of the legal process, so it is important to have a qualified probate attorney to handle your case.
To have a clear understanding of the probate process, the requirements, and the estate’s obligations, make sure to get legal advice from a probate attorney. It is always important to be updated with the necessary information in the probate process to avoid further inconvenience so that the heirs, creditors, and other beneficiaries receive their rightful shares.
At the Alden Probate Law Firm, you can get the representation you need from an attorney that can instruct you on the process of efficiently resolving your legal matter. Get the support and representation you need and deserve by calling or messaging today at (213) 214-6937.