Probate starts soon after losing a cherished loved one, and is the legal proceeding that validates a will so the estate can be settled. If someone passes away and did not write a will or other estate plan documents, the estate would go through probate and be handled based on state intestate laws. This can be a painful process for relatives in the middle of their grief, so many people writing their will try to avoid it from happening.
Probate can be a very long, stressful, and grueling process that is costly and time-consuming. Navigating this independently can feel like too much, especially while in the midst of grief. Maybe it’s not required that you hire a lawyer to guide you through probate, but it’s highly recommended that you do so. Your lawyer will understand the nuances of probate, and can give you sound advice during this time.
In general, a probate lawyer either acts as a personal representative for the estate itself, or represents an heir/beneficiary of the deceased person. A probate lawyer can handle many tasks, such as:
- Calculating and paying inheritance taxes
- Collecting policy information (life insurance)
- Identifying and paying income and estate taxes
- Writing a list of estate assets
- Submitting final distribution once bills and taxes are paid
- Ordering appraisals if needed
- Preparing, reviewing, and editing court documents
- Managing the decedent’s bank accounts
- Retitling assets in the names of beneficiaries
The more complicated or high-value an estate is, the more emphasis a lawyer is likely to place on clarity when drafting a will. It will be imperative that your instructions for how and who you’d like to have your legacy passed onto future generations. If mixed up in probate, the longer beneficiaries will have to wait to get their inheritance.