When a person passes away, their close family and relatives are left to settle unresolved debts and distribute their assets.
Consequently, the family must do so in a manner that not only is consistent with the law, but also justly carries out their last will, wishes and testament – as stated in their will.
All of this can be particularly challenging for the grieving family to take on, which is why more often than not, the legal counsel or a probate lawyer is sought.
From collecting proceeds from insurance companies to identifying estate assets and inheritances – a probate lawyer guides you throughout the probate process.
But before we can dive into what an estate lawyer does, let’s dive into the fundamentals:
What Is A Probate Attorney?
According to the American Bar Association, probate is a formal legal process that recognizes a decedent’s will and appoints a personal representative or an executor to administer and distribute the assets and the estate to the intended beneficiaries.
A probate attorney is a licensed lawyer who works with the beneficiaries of an estate and the executors of a will to settle the affairs of the deceased.
Not only does a probate attorney provide legal advice and assistance, but they also check to see that the decedent’s debts and applicable taxes are paid. They also ensure that the estate is distributed according to the decedent’s desires or under Dallas’ probate laws.
Professional probate lawyers in Dallas Tx can not only help you ensure that all documents are completed, and deadlines are met, but they can also help you avoid any probate misunderstandings and quickly resolve disputes.
Consequently, one of the many benefits of teaming up with a probate attorney is that you don’t have to pay any retainer fees to move your case proceedings. Your probate attorney will only receive payment for services once the case is finalized.
What Does A Probate Attorney Do?
A probate lawyer can help you create and process a last will and testament, so that your family and relatives can have some sense of security in the event that you pass away.
Moreover, they can also assist you with trust planning. A probate attorney can help with asset protection as well as with retitling assets to the beneficiaries.
A probate attorney’s duties will likely depend on whether or not the deceased family had drafted a will prior to their death:
If There Is A Will
If a person dies having written a will – that is, they died testate – a probate lawyer is hired to advise the executioner of the will and the beneficiaries on various legal matters.
For one, a probate attorney may review the will to ensure that it wasn’t signed under any pressure or duress (especially in the case that it goes against the best interests of the decedent).
In cases like these, beneficiaries may want to challenge a will if they believe that the will was procured by either forgery or fraud. Consequently, some people might also be vulnerable to undue influence by those who want an unjust cut of the estate.
If There Is No Will
In the event that a person dies without writing a will, then they are proclaimed to have died intestate. In the chance that this happens, the decedent’s estate is distributed according to local intestacy laws.
For instance, if you have a spouse, your wife will receive all of your intestate property. Here, a probate lawyer is hired to assist the administrator with distributing assets according to state law.
Aside from the above, a probate attorney’s duties may include assisting an executor and the will’s beneficiaries with:
- Identifying estate assets
- Obtaining appraisals for the decedent’s property
- Preparing and filing probate documents
- Collecting proceeds from life insurance policies
- Resolving income tax issues
- Determining if any inheritance or estate taxes are due, and ensuring they are paid
- Assisting in the fulfillment of debts and bills
- Managing the estate checking account
- Transferring assets to the appropriate beneficiaries
Probate lawyers are also key players in negotiations between beneficiaries who don’t get along with the personal representative very well.
Local law will require you to keep the probate case open for some months, just to give people enough time to declare claims or disputes. In most probates, however, few creditors submit claims, and arguments in court rarely take place.
It’s a great idea to check in with your attorney regularly for updates regarding the case. Take the opportunity to ask them any questions you have about the proceedings and communicate your needs effectively.
If you’re still unsure about proceeding with any action that will affect the estate – it is best to get legal counsel from a probate attorney you know and