Carreer Description for a Probate Lawyer

Carreer Description for a Probate Lawyer

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Who is a Probate Lawyer

A probate lawyer is a state-licensed attorney who advises personal representatives, also called executors, and the beneficiaries of an estate on how to settle the final affairs of a deceased person. A probate lawyer, also known as an estate lawyer or an estate attorney, is often responsible for walking a personal representative through the entire probate process from start to finish.

What a Probate Lawyer Does

All the steps involved in probating an estate depend on the probate laws where the decedent lived at the time of death, as well as any other states where the decedent might have owned property. The steps required for settling an estate will differ based on whether the decedent died testate with a valid last will and testament, or intestate, without leaving a valid will or other estate plan. A probate lawyer will be well-versed in both situations.

A probate lawyer can also be hired to advise beneficiaries of an estate on legal and other matters presented by the personal representative during the course of the probate process. This can become necessary when the beneficiary doesn’t get along with or trust the personal representative. Some probate lawyers specialize in separate lawsuits related to the decedent’s estate. This might happen when a beneficiary challenges the validity of the decedent’s last will and testament through a will contest. These types of attorneys are known as estate litigators, probate litigators, or estate and trust litigators.

 How a Probate Lawyer Assists a Personal Representative

The probate lawyer advises and assists with four areas of responsibility when representing the personal representative of an estate:

 1. Collecting Assets

An attorney might assist in helping the executor locate and secure both probate assets and non-probate assets, and determining date-of-death values by appraisal, if necessary. The executor will be required to collect any life insurance proceeds if the estate is named as beneficiary, and rolling over and making appropriate elections with regard to retirement plans, including IRAs and 401(k)s. The attorney will assist with all this.

Eventually, the decedent’s real estate and other assets will have to be retitled in the names of the estate beneficiaries if they’re not being sold. The lawyer typically takes care of this paperwork as well, then the executor can distribute what’s left of the decedent’s assets to the beneficiaries after bills and taxes are paid.

2. Handling Finances

A probate lawyer will advise on the payment of the decedent’s final bills and outstanding debts, and will prepare and file all related documents required by the court. The executor must keep track of the estate’s checking account, and the attorney might oversee this as well, in addition to determining if any estate taxes or inheritance taxes will be due at the federal or state levels. If so, the attorney will figure out where the cash will come from to pay these taxes, as well as any income taxes due from the decedent’s last year of life.

 3. Settling Disputes

The attorney will settle any disputes that arise between the personal representative and the estate’s beneficiaries, and assist with the sale of estate property. It’s the attorney’s responsibility to request court permission for various actions as required by state laws, including the sale of property. Court approval can help reassure unhappy beneficiaries.

 4. Do You Need a Lawyer?

Much of what’s involved in settling an estate requires common sense but not necessarily a law degree. Most executors can handle quite a few of these details just fine on their own. But more complicated estates can prove to be minefields of potential problems that a professional can best deal with. The assistance of an attorney can prove invaluable when beneficiaries don’t get along, when the estate includes complex assets like business interests, or when the decedent didn’t leave sufficient assets to pay all debts.

Importance of Probate

  1. While the probate process especially when lawyers are involved, only takes away from what beneficiaries get from a person’s will, the process can be stripped down and fairly simple. Not all property is required to pass through probate.
  • A certain amount of property usually measured by dollar amount can be dealt with and distributed without the need for probate. If there is any significant property left over, there are simplified procedures that can quickly and easily transfer property to the intended or desired owner.
  • Probate is specifically appropriate and necessary for individuals with a significant amount of property or wealth and even more needed if there are, or will likely be, those who contest the individual’s will and how the relevant assets are going to be distributed.

Get Help

Do you have more questions about Probate? Our attorneys are ready to give you all the help and answers you need. Call us today.


How do I deal with it Probate?

Clearing their debts and distributing their assets in accordance with their will or intestacy rules in the absence of a will.

Who’s responsible for administering my will or trust?

The executor you name in your will carries out the instructions set forth in the will. A trustee of a trust created in a will plays a similar role, but usually for a much longer time.

What happens to the debt I leave behind during probate?

Whether you have a will or a trust, any debt you have at the time of your death will need to be settled. If your assets aren’t liquid, creditors could force the sale of your property to get paid.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The content of this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments. No attorney-client relationship is formed by reading this blog or contacting Morgan Legal Group.

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