Probate court is where estate issues are settled, and it is often a lengthy and complex process that requires a probate lawyer. Your probate attorney can also help you in matters outside of court. And here are the times when you would need one:
You need a probate lawyer if you’re asked to stand before a judge during estate proceedings. For instance, wills and other estate documents left behind after someone’s death may be written unclearly, so the heirs have to go to probate court to interpret them. The heirs need a probate attorney to present the will or estate documents for interpretation in the courtroom. Someone challenging the will leads to litigation, and all parties involved also need a probate lawyer to represent them in court.
When the assets of an estate are insufficient to pay off its taxes, administrative expenses, and debts, creditors usually file claims of badger the estate’s executor for money. In this case, you should hire a probate lawyer to manage those creditors, claims, and other probate issues.
Each state has a different court system. Some states opt to keep a separate probate court to exclusively handle probate matters, while others designate probate duties to trial courts. A local lawyer knows your state’s court system well. So, if you live in Colorado, for example, a Denver probate attorney will represent you better than a Kansas City lawyer.
Creating a last will and testament
To provide your loved ones with security after your death, you need to create a last will and testament. Writing the will on your own may expose it to a multitude of issues, so you need to consult with a lawyer. A probate attorney ensures that your will is clear and legally sound, and that you are able to communicate how your estate, savings and assets will be distributed according to your will.
When you pass, your probate lawyer will handle the estate administration, and carry out your will. If there are claims against your estate, they usually handle all claims first before ultimately distributing the property to heirs and beneficiaries.
If you are seeking to set up an estate plan, you should also hire a probate lawyer. While your will is a document that is part of estate planning, you need a more extensive estate plan to protect your assets after your death.
Aside from the execution of a will, estate planning includes power of attorney, medical power of attorney, or an advance directive. If you have a complex estate, you have to place your property into a trust to avoid certain federal or state estate taxes. A trust also controls how your heirs spend and invest your assets following your death. Probate attorneys are well-versed in the state laws regarding trusts, and they will advise you on how to create an estate plan that best suits your needs.
There are a lot of ways a probate lawyer can help you. While you may go through some of these processes without a probate lawyer, such as writing your will, the result is often inadequate and causes problems of yourself and your loved ones. Consult with a probate lawyer regarding issues with your estate, so you can ascertain that the fruits of your life’s work are secure even after your death.