Nobody really wants to think about death, wills, and the probate process. Unfortunately, though, we all die eventually – and many of us will have at least some type of contact with probate at some point in our lives. Regardless of how your involvement with probate comes about, it’s important to know that you don’t have to handle things on your own. In fact, there are at least ten good reasons why you might need a probate lawyer.
- A probate attorney can help you draft your will. While you might be tempted to use a DIY will, it makes more sense to have your Last Will and Testament drafted by a professional. That’s the best way to ensure that it does what you need, while reducing the chance that a court will declare your document invalid when you pass away.
- Lawyers can help to minimize family conflict. Probate can be a time of great conflict in families, especially when the terms of a will are less favorable than some heirs might wish. A probate attorney can help to reduce these tensions and facilitate a smoother probate process for everyone involved in the settling of the estate.
- A Lawyer can help to protect the estate against legal claim Legal claims against estates occur more frequently than many people realize. From creditor claims to will contests, the probate process can be a magnet for those seeking to gain advantage from the death of a testator. When you hire a probate attorney, you can gain the protection you need to ensure that the decedent’s wishes are properly respected.
- Lawyers can sometimes expedite probate. The probate process can sometimes get bogged down in details, especially when the estate settlement is being managed by an inexperienced executor with little financial or legal knowledge. While attorneys don’t have any magic formula that can suddenly bring probate to a conclusion, they can be an invaluable aid for reducing the impact of all the many obstacles that may present themselves during the process.
- Lawyers can help answer your probate questions. Whether you’re an executor or an heir with an interest in the process, an attorney can help to get your questions answered. The fact is that probate can be a confusing time for everyone involved, and that confusion is magnified by the raw emotion that the death of a loved one always evokes. A good attorney can help to ensure that you understand the process, and know what to expect.
- An attorney can help with court filings and technical details. Executors have many different responsibilities to fulfill, and many of those duties include important court filings that facilitate different aspects of the process. While you can draft those documents yourself, the stress of just losing a loved one might make that task something you’d prefer to avoid. Your attorney can also help to ensure that you understand some of the finer technical points during probate, so that you don’t make needless mistakes.
- Attorneys help to ensure that debts are properly paid. Executors sometimes struggle with the debt settlement part of the probate process, and may even cause unnecessary delays by being overly cautious. That’s understandable, since no executor wants to release inheritances only to see creditors come in later with unsettled debts that need to be addressed. There are specific timelines for these processes, though, and a good attorney can help to ensure that you don’t delay one day longer than the law requires.
- Lawyers can help with specific specialty needs. There’s more to settling an estate than just settling debts and passing out bequests. There are a host of processes that can require specialized skills. Assets sometimes need to be appraised. An accurate accounting of probate activities needs to be prepared, including financial transactions. Various legal issues arise during many probate processes. An attorney can help you to get the help you need to resolve these issues with a minimum of stress and fuss.
- An attorney can help an executor protect his interests. If you’re an executor, then you also need to understand that your personal interests could be at risk if you make an error that results in losses for the beneficiaries. Yes, there have been instances in which executor errors have resulted in legal action from heirs. Though having an attorney cannot guarantee that no disgruntled heirs will sue you, it can help to ensure that you make sound decisions that limit the potential for mistakes that could place your personal wealth at risk.
- The probate lawyer can help to relieve stress and simplify the process. Let’s face it; when a loved one dies, the last thing that any of us want to do is go through a complicated and drawn-out legal process to settle the estate. It’s necessary, though, since debts must be settled and assets must be passed on. The good news is that you don’t have to endure that stress on your own, or deal with the complexities without professional help.
An experienced attorney can help to simplify the entire probate process, guiding you through it in a way that reduces stress and anxiety. He or she can provide as much or as little help as you need. Moreover, that’s true whether you’re an executor, an heir awaiting a bequest, or a would-be heir who wants to contest the will.
Get the Help You Need
There’s nothing that says that you must retain an attorney to help you with executor duties. You certainly aren’t required to do so if you’re an heir who has questions about an inheritance or a potential will contest. However, these are all important legal matters, so it does make sense to at least consider how a probate lawyer might be able to help you during this stressful time. At Kulas & Crawford, Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys, our probate team can help you with any of your complex probate concerns. If you’d like to learn more about how we can assist you with any aspect of the process, contact us online or call us today at (772) 398-0720.