Need to go through the probate process but not sure where to start? Wondering if you should hire a probate attorney?
The legal issues around the death of a close family member can be complicated. Especially when finances and family matters are involved. A probate lawyer can help in the execution of the will of the deceased and settling of an estate effectively.
A Melbourne Florida Probate attorney at Lacey Lyons Rezanka can guide an executor of a will through the probate process, which involves identifying estate assets, paying creditors, and distributing assets and inheritances to beneficiaries.
This article will cover everything you need to know about Probate law, why and when you need a probate attorney.
What is Probate?
Probate is the judicial process of administering the estate of a person who has passed away. This process results in a deceased person’s assets to be properly identified, valued, and redistributed to his beneficiaries.
During this process, the validity of the deceased’s will is verified and an executor of the will is appointed.
In the absence of a will, the probate process recommended by the State and Federal law is administered to determine how the assets should be distributed.
The process starts after the heirs and beneficiaries file a petition in the probate court. First, the worth of all the assets is calculated, then the debts and taxes are paid off. After that, the beneficiaries are identified and assets are distributed.
The Role of a Probate Attorney
A probate lawyer is a state-licensed attorney who helps the beneficiaries with the distribution of an estate and settling the affairs of the decedent. The probate lawyer may also help with the estate planning such as drafting of wills or giving advice on powers of attorney.
A lawyer can review the deceased person’s will if any, and other legal documents such as trust documents. He also guides the executor through the filing process and confirms that all estate assets are properly transferred to the beneficiaries.
The following are some other tasks he can help you with:
- Settle disputes between beneficiaries and heirs
- Determine if an estate needs to be sold.
- Ensure that the assets of the deceased are distributed legally among beneficiaries.
A probate lawyer can support you with a wide range of duties throughout the process. Using a probate lawyer can make what is normally an overwhelming process simpler and hassle-free.
Do you Need a Probate Lawyer?
Not every probate requires hiring an attorney. You can avoid hiring a probate lawyer in the following circumstances:
- The deceased party planned the estate in advance. Common assets like joint tenancy and bank accounts with a TOD (transfer on death) can be easily handled outside of probate court.
- The estate has enough money to pay off all the legitimate debts like income taxes, medical bills, etc.
- The estate is not required to pay any Federal Estate Taxes. In case, if the estate is quite big and Federal taxes are applicable, you might want to hire a Probate attorney.
5 Reasons for Hiring a Probate Lawyer
The following are our top five reasons why you need to hire a probate lawyer.
1. A Probate Attorney can Minimize Family Conflicts
The death of a family member can result in conflicts among family members. The heirs can have different expectations about the distribution of the estate which can result in disputes.
Furthermore, more and more family members want to become a part of the probate process which can confuse and complicate the process.
Hiring a probate attorney can effectively reduce these tensions as he understands the probate process and doesn’t take sides with any party.
2. A Lawyer can Speed up the Probate Process
The probate process can be a complex undertaking. An attorney can help a personal representative by ensuring that the probate process is managed efficiently. The process can be bogged down if it is managed by inexperienced executioners with little or no financial knowledge. A lawyer can help by reducing the impact of obstacles and speeding up the process.
3. A Probate Lawyer has Knowledge and Resources to Effectively Carry out the Process
Probate is governed by numerous state and federal laws. The average person is unfamiliar with these laws and can be held accountable if something goes wrong. In addition to the legal knowledge, the executioner of the will needs financial expertise as well. He would require appraisers to help value the assets, accountants to ensure that all the taxes are paid, and real estate experts to advise on which estate to sell and which to keep if required to pay the debts.
Probate lawyers can carry out all these tasks effectively. We have a team of experts who would take care of all those issues and ensure nothing goes amiss.
4. A Lawyer can help Protecting the Estate Against Legal Claims
Legal claims are quite common these days. Not only family members and beneficiaries can file a legal claim but also the creditors can contest a will for a variety of reasons. However, if you hire a lawyer, you can get rid of these claims and ensure that the property of the deceased is distributed according to his wishes and in line with the state laws.
5. An Attorney can Ensure that the Debts are Paid
Debt settlement can cause unnecessary delays in the process of probate. A probate attorney can ensure that the debts of the deceased are paid and the inheritances are released promptly.
Sometimes the financial situation of the deceased is complex. He might have to pay income tax, loans, or the debts coming from the estate. Every situation is unique and might demand expertise which only a probate lawyer can provide.
Reach Out to Us
Lacey Lyons Rezanka is a leading law firm in Brevard County, committed to providing exceptional probate services. We ensure that the whole process is carried out in a timely and efficient manner. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.