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Who Is a Probate Lawyer And Do You Need One?

Every human being will die at some point; it is a debt we must all pay. Some people are unconcerned about what happens when they die, but others prefer to arrange their estate property so that their ultimate desires are appropriately carried out. In some situations, these people decide to hire a probate lawyer, who will play an important role in the estate management procedure.

A probate lawyer is a state-licensed attorney who helps the executor of a will or the potential beneficiaries named in the will navigate the estate-settling procedure. A probate lawyer provides important services throughout a judicial action, such as:

  • Taking inventory of estate assets;
  • Settling estate debts;
  • Estate property distribution and settlement (probate estates).

A probate lawyer (probate attorney) is also licensed to assist with the estate planning process. They may, however, charge additional costs for such services, such as establishing estate planning documents. A probate lawyer who is involved in the estate planning process can successfully address challenges such as making a will, creating a guardianship or writing a trust.

When Do You Need the Services of a Probate Lawyer?

The size of your estate will determine whether or not you require a probate lawyer. In other situations, it also depends on the size of the family who wishes to share your real estate upon your death. There are a few variables to examine when deciding if you have genuine claims to employ a probate lawyer to handle the legal matters of your estate. 

  • The probate process in your state;
  • What is the value of your estate?
  • Property types in your estate include retirement funds and any life insurance policies;
  • Is your estate distributable without the need for probate?
  • Are your beneficiaries on the same page?
  • Do you have to pay estate taxes?

These considerations, and your responses to them, can help you assess if you need to hire a probate lawyer. Another thing to examine is whether or not the estate has a will. In either situation, you can employ a probate lawyer. Let’s go over it some more.

When There Is a Will, You Need a Probate Lawyer

If a person died with a will, a probate lawyer can be retained to advise the parties involved in the administration (the executor and the beneficiaries). In this scenario, the probate lawyer’s responsibility is to examine the will and establish if it was signed or made under duress or undue influence. This is occasionally the case for older people suffering from dementia, who may be excessively persuaded by individuals seeking to gain from their will and life insurance payments.

What if there is reason to be concerned? When a probate lawyer discovers a flaw in the deceased’s will, they have a legal obligation to challenge or fight the will, trust, or the executor’s entire fiduciary duty. This can have a significant impact on the result of an estate.

When There Is No Will, You Still Need a Probate Lawyer

When a person dies intestate (without writing or signing a will), his or her estate is dispersed in accordance with the intestacy statutes of the state in which the estate is constituted. Because there is no will, the deceased’s intentions or stipulations cannot be considered in these instances.

Intestacy law for intestate estates differs from state to state. If a deceased individual was married at the time of their death, their surviving spouse obtains all of their intestate property under the rules of several states. 

In this case, a probate lawyer can be appointed to help the estate’s administrator. The lawyer can assist in dispersing the deceased individual’s assets in accordance with state legislation. In the absence of a will, the probate lawyer executes all of the listed obligations in accordance with the state’s intestacy statutes. Because there is no will, the deceased’s preferences, stipulations, or the requirements of their survivors cannot be considered.

The Cost of Hiring a Probate Attorney

The average cost of a probate lawyer varies. Probate attorneys charge their clients in a variety of ways. Probate lawyers use the following strategies to charge clients for the services they provide:

  • Fees that are fixed;
  • Hourly rates;
  • Payment based on a percentage of the estate’s worth.

It is important to note that the fees for probate lawyers vary depending on their experience, the services they provide, their geographical location, and the sorts of assets owned by the deceased. Because New York is an expensive state, the services of a lawyer are also on the expensive side.

Is It Possible to Save Money on a Probate Lawyer?

Depending on the circumstances, hiring a probate lawyer or any attorney might be risky and costly. When going through the probate procedure, researching your circumstance and its complexities might save you a lot of money. 

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