Do I Need to Hire a Probate Lawyer?: The Top Signs You Should Lawyer UpPosted:
Every year, Americans spend approximately $2 billion in costs related to probate.
If you have a loved one who recently passed away, you’ve probably spent a lot of time and money dealing with their estate and trying to get their assets out of probate.
Trying to do this on your own can often be time-consuming and expensive. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a probate lawyer working with you.
Read on to learn more about what this type of lawyer does and some signs that you may need to hire one.
What Is a Probate Lawyer?
A probate lawyer is a lawyer who specializes in matters related to a deceased person’s estate. They have a wide range of responsibilities, which includes the following:
- Guiding individuals through the probate process
- Advising the beneficiary (or beneficiaries) of an estate
- Representing beneficiaries if they become involved in lawsuits related to the estate
- Assisting with challenges to the validity of the deceased’s will
Probate lawyers go by several other names. They may also refer to themselves as probate litigators, estate litigators, or estate and trust litigators.
Should You Hire One?
A probate lawyer can provide a variety of services to you if you’re struggling to deal with matters related to your loved one’s estate. It’s not always clear whether it’s worth it to invest in this type of lawyer’s services, though.
If you’re on the fence about hiring a lawyer, consider whether you’re dealing with any of these issues in your case:
Someone Has Contested the Will
If another beneficiary has contested the will or is planning to do so, it’s a good idea to get a lawyer on your side as soon as possible.
If someone contests the will, that will drag out the process and could put you at risk of losing what your loved one intended for you to have.
There are Split Assets
When split assets are part of an estate, things get complicated fast. This is especially true when you’re dealing with intangible assets.
To avoid a lot of headaches and arguments, it’s best to hire a lawyer who can help navigate the division of these assets and make sure everything is handled in a fair manner.
The Estate Doesn’t Qualify for Simple Procedures
Probate is nearly always complicated. Some probate processes are more complicated than others, though.
Depending on the size of the estate, it may qualify for simpler procedures that get wrapped up relatively quickly. If this isn’t the case for the estate you’re dealing with, though, you’ll likely want to get a lawyer involved.
The Deceased Has a Lot of Debt
If your loved one died with a lot of debt, the estate will need to be used to pay off those debts. Navigating this issue can be tricky on your own.
A lawyer will help you make sure everything gets paid off and can negotiate debts to ensure you and the other beneficiaries receive as much from the estate as possible.
The Estate Owes a Lot in Taxes
Most estates don’t have to pay any federal taxes. However, many states have their own estate taxes that apply to estates worth $1 million or more.
If this is the case for your loved one’s estate, you will likely have to pay taxes. Handling estate taxes is definitely not an easy process, so it’s a good idea to work with a lawyer.
The Estate Contains a Business
If a business is part of the estate, you’ll likely want to get help from a lawyer to sort everything out.
A lot of expertise and experience is needed when you’re dealing with the process of appraising, managing, and selling a business, especially when the owner is deceased.
Tips for Choosing the Right Probate Lawyer
If any of these situations apply to your case, it’s probably a good idea to hire a lawyer. Of course, finding a lawyer who has probate experience and has the necessary qualifications to handle your case isn’t always easy.
Here are some tips that can simplify your search and help you find the right person for the job:
Consider Their Experience
Make sure you hire a lawyer who has experience dealing with estates in probate. As a general rule, the more experience they have in this arena, the better off you’re likely to be.
Consider Their Location
It’s best to work with a lawyer who practices in your area and is familiar with your state’s specific probate laws.
A local attorney will know how to handle these laws, and they may have connections with other professionals who can help to simplify the process for you.
Request a Consultation
Always sit down for a consultation before you agree to work with a particular lawyer. Most lawyers offer a free meeting or phone conversation to go over the basics of your case.
Use this meeting as an opportunity to get to know the lawyer and determine whether they’re a good fit for you.
Don’t Forget Fees
During the meeting, be sure to ask the lawyer about their fees and how they charge for their services, too.
How much of a retainer do they require? When will have you to pay them for their services?
Read Their Reviews
Finally, read their reviews and ask for references.
Any lawyer worth hiring will have plenty of positive online reviews. They’ll also be able to connect you with current and past clients who are satisfied with the service they’ve received.
Get More Legal Advice Today
As you can see, there are definitely benefits that come with hiring a probate lawyer. This is especially true if, after evaluating your case, you notice any of the warning signs listed above.
Keep this information in mind as you begin navigating your case, and don’t be afraid to reach out to a lawyer if you suspect you may need one. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when you’re dealing with complex matters like estate law.
Do you need more legal advice or tips on hiring a good lawyer? If so, we have lots of resources for you. Check out the other legal articles in the News section of our site today to learn more.
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