The Importance of a Probate Attorney
When a loved one passes, seeking professional guidance and assistance from a probate attorney is important. This is especially true if the deceased person did not have a will and died “intestate.”
Finding the right probate attorney is crucial during this challenging (and emotional) time. To find the best candidate, ask for referrals from friends and colleagues. You can also contact Koestner & Shahon for professional help.
A probate attorney is a state-licensed lawyer who can help the executor of a will (if one was appointed) or the beneficiaries of an estate work to settle and distribute assets. Their services typically include everything from finding and inventorying assets, to understanding and paying estate debts, settling tax obligations, and distributing inheritances.
A good probate attorney is honest and transparent. They will explain all the legal options available to their clients, including the pros and cons of each option. They will also disclose any potential conflicts of interest that might arise during the course of representing their client. This allows their clients to make informed decisions and feel comfortable with their representation.
If a probate attorney is not honest or transparent, it can create serious issues for their clients. For example, if a probate attorney misrepresents their client’s financial status or hides fees from them, it could lead to unnecessary costs and disputes. In addition, if a probate attorney shares confidential information with unauthorized individuals or third parties, it may violate professional standards and cause harm to their client.
Probate attorneys must follow strict ethical rules in order to represent their clients well. These rules are outlined in the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct and include a requirement for honesty and truthfulness. If a probate attorney breaches these rules, they can face professional disciplinary action.
In addition to the ethical rules set forth by the State Bar, there are a number of other ethics codes that are specific to probate law.
As a result of these ethical and regulatory requirements, it is important to hire a knowledgeable probate attorney. A probate attorney who specializes in probate and trust matters will know the rules, forms, procedures, courts and officials involved. This expertise is critical to resolving probate cases efficiently and effectively. A good probate attorney will also be able to identify potential problems and prevent them from arising.
A probate attorney is an attorney who assists people with the legal aspects of the passing of a loved one. They can handle various legal matters, including challenges to the validity of a will and breaches of fiduciary duties by executors. They also assist with locating and valuing assets, locating beneficiaries and settling disputes among family members. They can also help with estate planning, ensuring that the right documents are in place such as healthcare proxies and durable powers of attorneys.
To become a probate lawyer, you must first pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This exam asks you to write a few short essays and answer questions about law in general and specific state laws. You should attend a law school with a strong clinical program in order to gain practical experience and be better prepared for your career. After you graduate from law school, you must pass the bar examination. This is a multi-day exam that tests your knowledge of the law and allows you to practice law in your state.
Probate is a complicated process with many moving parts. A probate lawyer can help you navigate the process quickly and smoothly. They can also save you time and money by avoiding unnecessary delays. The best probate lawyers are experienced and understand the nuances of the law.
The law firm has extensive experience assisting families and individuals with estate planning and probate. They can help you prepare documents such as healthcare proxies and durable powers to protect your loved ones’ health and financial security in the event of an emergency. They can also draft a will and trust to ensure your family’s wishes are honored after your death.
Hiring a probate attorney can save you money and stress after the death of a family member. They can help you navigate the difficult process of distributing property and settling debts. They can also assist with other important tasks such as obtaining the date of death value for property, filing tax elections and filings, securing and selling real estate, obtaining life insurance proceeds and more.
A probate attorney’s reputation is important to their success. A reputable lawyer is highly qualified and experienced, has extensive knowledge in their chosen field of law, and is known as a competent, compassionate, and helpful person to work with. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with sensitive, emotional matters such as estate planning and probate.
A reputable lawyer will be licensed to practice in your state and has passed the Bar exam, which is an extensive test of legal knowledge. Additionally, a reputable attorney will have good client communication skills and will be professional when working with the other parties involved in the case.
In addition to guiding the executor of an estate through the process, probate lawyers also help family members file other paperwork and settle a loved one’s final affairs. They can assist in valuing and gathering assets, paying bills and taxes, and distributing the remaining property to the beneficiaries or heirs. In some cases, a person’s assets can be transferred without going through the probate process if they are placed into a trust.
As the death of a loved one can be emotionally and logistically challenging, a probate lawyer is crucial to ensuring that the process runs as smoothly as possible. A good probate attorney will be familiar with the local laws and will make sure that all required notifications are sent out and completed correctly. They will also be able to reduce the time and costs associated with the probate process by helping the executor find efficient ways to manage the estate.
A probate attorney can also help if there is a dispute about the terms of the deceased’s will. For example, if the deceased remarried shortly before their death and left the new spouse a large share of their estate, the other family members may contest this decision on the grounds that the omission was unfair or the will was made under undue influence. In this case, the lawyer will represent the interested party to defend their position in court. They will prepare and file all necessary legal documents and attend all hearings.
The probate process can be expensive. However, you may be able to reduce the amount you owe by doing some of the work yourself. Having an attorney to help guide you through the process can also minimize the costs.
In addition to handling the estate’s financial affairs, a probate attorney can also assist you in drafting advance directives, including health care power of attorneys and living wills. Those documents are important to ensure that your wishes are documented in the event you become incapacitated. They can also help you identify and locate assets, such as real estate and investments. Additionally, they can help you pay any debts and taxes owed by the estate.
Many lawyers charge by the hour, and the rate varies depending on where you live and how experienced (and busy) they are. However, some probate lawyers quote a flat fee for their services, which can be more cost-effective than billing by the hour. This can also be a good choice for clients who want to avoid the stress of tracking down billable hours.
In some cases, the cost of a probate lawyer may be covered by the estate. But in other cases, the executor or administrator of the estate must pay the attorney’s fees. This is particularly true if the deceased’s will is contested.
Whether you’re paying by the hour or on a contingency basis, it’s important to get your fee agreement in writing. This will protect you against unforeseen expenses. It’s also a good idea to join a professional association to keep up with the latest changes in probate law.
A lawyer’s experience can make a huge difference in the outcome of a case, especially when dealing with an unexpected issue. For example, if there are disputes over the distribution of property or money, a lawyer who has handled similar cases in the past can handle them more efficiently than an attorney new to this type of law. They can also provide a broader perspective on the case and explain all of your options, including those if the case goes to litigation.