When handling issues that relate to probate, not every executor needs professional help. That is, it is not legally required for you to have a probate attorney assist with you with probate, and some simple estates with small assets may not require an attorney’s aid. However, many individuals seek the help of a probate attorney because their estates contain complex assets, or assets of significant value. Many people are in mourning following the death of their loved one, and may not be familiar with the process of probate. For these reasons, many families turn to experienced estate planning attorneys to handle their probate proceedings.
How Can I know if I Need a Probate Attorney?
Generally speaking, the more complex the probate case, the more likely you are to require or benefit from the assistance of a probate attorney. There are several questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you should proceed without an attorney when handling probate. If you find yourself answering “no” to most of these questions, you may benefit from the legal advice of an attorney:
Can the deceased individual’s property be transferred without probate?
The likelihood of assets being transferred outside of probate is higher if the deceased person engaged in any estate planning before his or death. Many assets can be transferred to new owners without probate. These assets include jointly held assets, assets inside a living trust, survivorship community property, and tenancy by the entirety. Beneficiaries of assets are also not required to go through probate. Examples of beneficiary assets include retirement or savings accounts, and insurance policy payouts.
Does the estate of the deceased contain only common assets?
Common assets include automobiles, personal goods, real estate, and bank accounts. When a deceased person’s estate include more complex assets, such as a business or commercial property, there can be a greater need for professional assistance. Special handling of these assets may require the help of experienced managers and appraisers.
Is the estate wealthy enough to pay off debts?
The approach for handling assets in probate is different when there are debts left over by the deceased. The debts of probate commonly include funeral costs, final income taxes, and medical bills. If there is sufficient money in the estate to pay off debts and taxes, there may not be an issue in handling probate. If there is insufficient funds, some creditors will have greater rights to the funds, and the process of how to distribute the debts can be tricky without a probate attorney.
Are inheritors and beneficiaries in agreement to the estate?
The notion of family members fighting over assets sounds unpleasant, but it can happen. If a relative is threatening to contest a will, it is vital that you speak to an experienced probate attorney. Probate lawsuits can drain the estate’s funds and wreak havoc among family members. A probate attorney may be able to help you prevent a court battle.
If you need assistance with probate, speak to our DeLand estate planning attorneys. We can guide you through the steps of probate and simplify the process. For more information, contact Akin Law at 386-738-5599.