When Do You Need the Services of a Probate Attorney?

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Probate is a legal procedure for settling an estate by validating a Will. If a decedent dies without a Will (or other Estate Plan in place), he or she is said to have died intestate, and the estate must go through probate.

Probate may be tedious, upsetting, and expensive, not to mention time-consuming. After losing a loved one, navigating it on your own can be overwhelming. It is usually helpful to have an experienced probate attorney to guide you.

What is a probate attorney?

A probate attorney is a state-licensed attorney who can assist the Executor of a Will or the beneficiaries of an estate as they strive to settle an estate through probate. Their services could range from locating and inventorying the estate’s assets to analyzing and paying all of the estate’s debts, distributing and settling the estate, and more.

Probate attorneys are also authorized to assist with the Estate Planning process, albeit they typically charge a significant fee for basic services such as establishing guardianship, drafting a Will, or drafting a Trust.

When do you need to hire a Probate Attorney?

Ask yourself the following questions to see if you’re capable of handling probate alone.

Are the members of your family getting along?

Will battles are uncommon, but if a family member is threatening to sue over the estate, see a probate attorney in Danville, CA right away. Probate litigation drives families apart and sucks a large sum of money from an estate. A lawyer might be able to assist you to avoid going to court.

Can the estate settle all the debts? 

You won’t have to figure out which bills to pay if there’s enough money to cover genuine debts (including last income taxes, expenses from the last sickness, and burial fees), plus some leftover for beneficiaries under the will or state law. If your initial research finds that the estate may not have enough money to pay debts and taxes, don’t pay any debts until you speak with a lawyer. Some creditors have priority over others under state law.

Is it possible to transfer a deceased person’s assets without going through probate? 

The answer to this issue is contingent on how much probate-avoidance planning the deceased person performed before passing away. In an ideal world, all assets would be passed to their new owners without the need for probate. Assets held in joint tenancy, survivorship community property, or tenancy by the entirety are some instances of assets that do not require probate. Assets in a living trust can also avoid probate. Probate is also not required for assets for which a beneficiary was named by the deceased person, such as retirement savings or life insurance policy proceeds.

Conclusion

The decision to employ a probate attorney in Danville, CA is based on several factors. You should think about how familiar you are with probate, how intricate your state’s regulations are, and how large or broad the estate is.

The probate court has a reputation for being a source of horror stories. However, if you’re adequately safeguarded, those situations can be avoided.