A probate lawyer is a state-licensed attorney who assists and advises the Personal Representative (Executor) through the probate process of settling a deceased person’s estate. To fully understand what a probate lawyer does, it is important to understand the process of probate.
What is Probate?
Historically, the term “Probate” exclusively meant the act of proving a Will’s validity. Now it has a much more general meaning, commonly referring to the process that is used to administer a deceased person’s estate, regardless if that person left behind a Will. Probate can be an expensive lengthy process, lasting anywhere from six months to a few years, depending on the complexity of the Estate and the court it is filed in.
Reasons Why Probate is Necessary
There are many reasons why the probate of an estate may be necessary, below are some of the most common:
- No Trust or Will: If the deceased did not leave behind any estate planning, then the probate process is used to determine who the beneficiaries are and how the assets should be titled and distributed.
- There is a Will: If the deceased left behind a Will clearly stating the beneficiaries, the estate must then go through the probate process in order to transfer the property to the deceased’s beneficiaries.
- Assets in Deceased’s Name: Probate is always required when a deceased person’s estate contains assets that are solely in the deceased’s name.
- No Beneficiaries Named: If the deceased did not name beneficiaries on assets like bank accounts, retirement plans, life insurance policies, etc., the accounts must pass through probate in order to transfer the funds or titles to those accounts.
The Basic Steps of Probate
1. File a Petition with the court and provide Notice to any heirs, beneficiaries, and/or devisees.
2. Provide Notice to creditors
3. Pay all estate expenses, debts, taxes, etc.
4.Remaining Assets are distributed as per the Will, or per state law if there was no Will.
Do you need a Probate Lawyer?
If a family member has passed, you will need a probate lawyer. Probate gets a bad rap because it can be expensive, stressful, and time-consuming. But the right probate lawyer can help you through each step of the probate process. Plus, a probate lawyer will be familiar with the law and procedural rules of the court and can help the case stay on top of filings and deadlines.
If a family member of yours has recently passed, or if you want to learn more about how your family can avoid probate upon your passing, consider meeting with a probate lawyer. At Kamper & Estrada, PLLC, our experienced probate attorney can help guide you through the probate process, and help you learn how to avoid it in the future.