There are often instances in people’s lives where they need the services of a probate attorney, particularly as your family or loved ones age, and you may be charged with the handling of their estate.
Probate lawyers can serve a valuable role in estates, especially where it comes to making sure estate administrators are doing the necessary steps properly as they work through the probate process. This process can be one that’s very lengthy and complicated, and it can also become tedious depending on the size of the estate and the beneficiaries involved.
Unfortunately, some people don’t start working with a probate attorney in their state until it’s too late, and the process has already been significantly delayed, which can cause not only frustration but also financial concerns.
Below are some of the key responsibilities of a probate lawyer, although it’s important to note these duties can vary depending on the state where the estate is being handled.
A Probate Lawyer Works with Personal Representatives
As noted above, a probate lawyer is someone who collaborates with the Personal Representative of the estate. The length and complexity of the probate process can depend not only on the estate itself but also on the state where it’s located.
For example, in Florida, there are two primary types of probate processes that may be followed. These are based on the value of the estate, as well as the time that’s passed since the decedent’s death.
Assets and Documents
When a Personal Representative first comes to a probate lawyer, also called an estate attorney, the first thing they’ll help them with is the gathering of information pertaining to assets, regardless of whether or not they will go through probate.
The lawyer can hep the Personal Representative assign value to certain assets, and collect the necessary documentation.
This initial gathering of information, documents, and asset values is important, and it determines how smoothly the entirety of the estate will go.
Insurance Policies and Retirement Accounts
If the decedent had any retirement accounts or insurance policies, the probate attorney will help in the collection of funds or rollovers that may be needed.
When an estate is opened, there will need to be a checking account opened to manage all debts and obligations, and this is another area a probate attorney can provide guidance.
They will help the Personal Representative understand the obligations that need to be paid, what order to pay them in, and how to keep track of all payment records.
If necessary, the probate lawyer may also need to help the Personal Representative for the estate to sell certain property, and move titles into the property names of beneficiaries, if applicable.
As a final note, these are some of the key things a probate lawyer does throughout the general process to settle and close out an estate, but they can also work on bringing possible estate conflicts to resolution if they do occur between beneficiaries and the Personal Representative.
At the end of the probate process for an estate, the attorney will also assist in the distribution of any assets that remain after all debts and obligations have been paid and taken care of.