Probate and Estate Administration lawyers navigate the legal process with wills and estate matters of a deceased person. They will:
- become court appointed executors should there be a dispute in inheritance
- help to resolve discrepancies in an estate after death
- oversee the inheritance process
- attend to tax matters
- work to resolve claims from creditors, beneficiaries and heirs
- act as the executor of an estate if one hasn’t been named, and work in conjunction with a court of law
- work to carry out in legal conscience the actions and requests of a will
The Probate process is involved, and can take several months. This is primarily because:
- Creditors need to be notified and legal notices published.
- Executors of the will need to be guided in how and when to distribute assets.
- A Petition to appoint a personal representative may need to be filed and letters of administration obtained.
- Homestead property, which follows its own set of unique rules in states like Florida, must be dealt with separately from other assets.
- There are time factors involved in filing and objecting to claims against the estate. A lawsuit may be pending over the decedent’s death. Separate procedures may be required in contentious probate cases.
- Real estate or other property may need to be sold to effect correct distribution of assets pursuant to the will or merely to pay debts.
- Estate taxes, gift taxes or inheritance taxes must be considered if the estate exceeds certain thresholds.
- Costs of the administration, including ordinary taxation such as income tax on interest and property taxation, will be deducted from assets in the estate before distribution by the executors of the will.
- Other assets may simply need to be transferred from the deceased to his or her beneficiaries.
If you are the executor of a loved ones’ estate, and you have questions or conflicts with the heirs of the estate, you are best suited to seek out a Probate or Estate Administration Attorney.
There are two types of Probate and/or Estate Administration Lawyers:
- Transactional – those that handle the administration of the estate
- Probate Litigators – those that handle the clients and act in proxy of the deceased
Some lawyers do both, but most will tend to do one or the other.
Look for a member in good standing of one or both of the Governing Associations:
- American Association of Estate Planning Attorneys
- American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys
- If no executor is established, have proper knowledge of the will and estate to answer questions on all financial holdings and investments of the deceased.
- Have proper documentation in order to present to the attorney.
- Understand the desired outcome which you are seeking.
- Research the attorney’s experience in the are of concern.
- Request a paralegal to remain familiar with your case for communication purposes.
- Ask for several references to determine:
- Was the level of communication satisfactory?
- Was the desired outcome positive?
- Would you hire this person again?