Working through the grief you experience after the death of a loved one is never easy. If your loved one appointed you to be the Executor of his/her estate, however, it means that your loved one is counting on you to be able to focus on the legal steps that need to be taken despite your grief. To make your life easier, the Vero Beach probate attorneys at Kulas & Crawford explain five reasons why you might want to hire a probate lawyer to help you with your Executor duties.
- A lawyer has the experience and resources necessary to properly administer an estate. Probate is governed by numerous state and federal laws that must be taken into account during the process. The average person has no reason to be familiar with these laws; however, as the Executor you will be held accountable for not abiding by any of the applicable laws. In addition, for an estate with complex and/or valuable assets an entire team of professionals is often needed to help during the probate process. You will need appraisers to help value the assets, accountants to ensure that all state and federal taxes owed by the estate are calculated properly and paid. You may also need a real estate professional and/or a financial advisor to help decide which assets to sell and which ones to keep if the estate lacks the necessary liquidity to cover all debts. All of this requires resources that most people don’t have. Probate attorneys, however, have those resources because this is what they do on a regular basis.
- Mistakes can be costly. As a first time Executor, making a mistake is easy to do. Missing assets, under or over-valuing assets, failing to properly notify creditors, or miscalculating the amount of taxes due are just a few common mistakes. A mistake made during the probate of an estate can cost the estate a considerable amount of both time and money, which is yet another reason why having an attorney by your side is to your benefit.
- A lawyer knows how to defend challenges. Probate litigation is always a possibility. In fact, litigation during the probate of an estate is more common now than it used to be. Moreover, the estate does not need to be particularly valuable for a challenge to occur. Beneficiaries and heirs will contest a Will for a seemingly endless number of reasons without regard to the value of the estate assets. In addition, creditors of the estate may challenge a denial of a claim. As the Executor, it is your job to defend the estate from any challenges. A probate attorney by your side certainly helps.
- Having an attorney to act as a buffer reduces the likelihood of family feuds. Unfortunately, probate litigation is fairly common. An estate need not be extremely valuable for loved ones to start squabbling over it. Last minute changes to a Will, for example, will frequently prompt a challenge to the Will. Since there is a good chance the challenger will be a family member or close friend of the family, it can put you in an awkward position. If you have an attorney on board, however, he/she can act as a buffer to help prevent long-term family conflicts.
- You may not have the time required to properly administer the estate. As a general rule, the larger and/or more valuable an estate is, the more time consuming the probate process will be. If you have a demanding job and/or a family of your own, it may be difficult to devote the time and attention required to properly probate the estate. Moreover, trying to navigate an unfamiliar legal system right after losing a loved one can be frustrating, to say the least. Hiring a probate lawyer to help you eliminates that frustration.
Contact the Vero Beach Probate Attorneys
To learn more, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you recently learned that you were appointed the Executor of an estate and would like assistance during the probate process, please contact the experienced Vero Beach probate attorneys at Kulas & Crawford by calling (772) 398-0720 to schedule a consultation.