Deciding whether or not to hire a probate attorney can depend on a lot of things but the decision is often one made by the executor of the estate. Because the executor is responsible for settling everything, there may be things that come up that they need help with. This is where a probate attorney comes in.
What Is Probate?
Put simply, probate is the process of distributing the estate of the deceased to the heirs and beneficiaries. Any debt owed is paid off as well. If there is a will in place, the distribution of the estate is done according to the will but if there is not, the state laws will dictate how the estate is distributed. The process can take some time if there is a large estate and if there was no executor named before the decedent passed.
Why Get A Lawyer Involved?
Because the process of probate is governed by the state laws, you may not understand what is happening or how to get through the process. A probate attorney works in this system every day and understands exactly what the court wants or needs from the process. Probate is a legal process designed to prove the validity of the decedent's will and if the steps are not followed, it can sometimes drag the process out for years. The probate attorney is the best way to avoid that happening and ensure a smooth resolution to the process.
What If There Is No Will?
If there is no legal will or some of the property of the deceased is not listed in the will, the court will rule on how those assets are distributed. That might be to the last living heir or it may be to the state. There are a lot of variables in how that decision is made. If there is a will and some things are not included in it, the probate process allows for an heir or another party to challenge the will to change the distribution of the assets. Essentially, this means that if the deceased verbally agreed to give something to you and it was never put in the will, you could raise the issue to the probate court to get that asset released to you. This is another instance that the lawyer will be helpful because they understand the process of challenging the will or distribution of an asset and can help you get through it.
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