Probate Lawyer Sets Expectations for Settling an Estate
Many, if not all of us, will have to experience the estate settling process at some point in our lives. While the whole process may seem very strange and unfamiliar, it would be false to say that it’s the same experience for everyone.
In this blog, we’d like to give you an idea of what you can expect to experience when settling an estate and how your probate lawyer can help you through it all.
Related Post: Informing Your Family About Probate
The Goals of an Estate Settlement
The primary goals of an estate settlement are to:
- Determine what assets were owned by your deceased loved one
- Place a value on those assets
- Transfer the assets to the correct people or organizations
- Pay any due taxes
The Role of a Probate Lawyer
Naturally, you’re probably wondering what the role of a probate lawyer is in all of this. A probate lawyer is an attorney who has the necessary education and experience to guide and advise personal representatives (or executors) as well as the beneficiaries of an estate on how to lawfully complete the estate settlement process.
Hiring a probate lawyer who is familiar with state law and how the local probate court works are highly advantageous for executors and beneficiaries. This will help ensure that the process runs as smoothly and as quickly possible and your deceased loved one’s wishes for their estate are followed.
Related Post: The Best Ways to Avoid Probate Court
A Brief Outline of the Estate Settlement Process
Now that you know the main goals of estate settlement as well as the role of your probate lawyer, here is a brief outline of the process as a whole.
- Gather all important documents. After your loved one passes, it is ideal that someone in the family knows where he or she kept their will. It may be a lockbox, a safe, or even a dresser drawer. Wherever it may be, find and collect all important documents regarding your loved one’s estate.
- Hire a probate lawyer. Find an experienced and reputable probate lawyer to walk with you through the estate settlement process. Although you may be hesitant (especially if you’ve never had to hire a lawyer before), the cost of legal services is well worth the advantages of having it.
- Probate. During this court procedure, the ownership of your loved one’s assets is transferred to the appropriate parties once the payment of any debts has been completed. This process is complex, varies in different states and may take up to two years to complete.
- Inventory of your loved one’s assets. The executor of your loved one’s estate will need to work with your probate lawyer to inventory your loved one’s assets. Once an inventory report of the assets has been filed, the proper value of the assets can be determined.
- The executor distributes property/assets. Once all claims, taxes, and debts have been paid, the executor will properly distribute the assets to those listed in your loved one’s will.
Although this process will vary depending on your location and your individual situation, your probate lawyer will be able to help explain the process, guide you through it, and answer any questions you have along the way. Although it can all be very confusing and may seem like it lasts forever, our probate lawyer is here to help you in any way he can.