Administering a deceased person’s estate can be complicated, arduous, and exhausting with or without a will. More often than not, it is also time-consuming and expensive, with all the various processes. If the circumstances are grave and complex, the probate process can be a chore. The assets must be assessed for a total value, and the debts and disputes need to be settled. Thus, it is advisable to hire a top local lawyer like OC probate attorney Christopher Walker to guide you in settling estate assets and preventing the hassle of going through rigorous undertakings.
What is probate?
A probate is a legal process where a court administers the transfer of estate assets from a deceased person. Further, it may not always be required upon death. Still, when the deceased has an essentially high value of assets, a probate proceeding is critical to upholding a transparent distribution of the estate to the inheritors.
What is a probate lawyer?
A probate lawyer acts as a guidance of the will executor and beneficiaries in going through the probate process, including:
- Determining estate assets
- Settling debts and bills of the decedent
- Filing legal court documents
- Collection of the life insurance policy proceeds
- Organizing property appraisals (if there’s a real property like a house)
- Monitoring the estate’s checkbook
- Preparing the final distributions when the bills and taxes are paid
- Transferring assets to the name rightful inheritor/s
On another note, the lawyer’s responsibility depends on whether the decedent had a last will or not.
When do you need a probate lawyer?
Seeking professional help depends on how large the estate is and the dilemma of family affairs. Following are some circumstances to consider before hiring a probate attorney.
If the executors don’t come to an agreement
There are instances that various executors may be present if the decedent left a will. With this, different decisions can come to the table in determining how the estate can be regulated. It may get chaotic if they disagree with a decision, so it is advisable to seek legal advice to help executors in the decision-making process.
If there are large and complicated assets
An example of a large asset is a home or a business. It requires managing and appraising, especially if it involves a large sum of money. Therefore, hiring a highly skilled attorney is best to avoid issues in the distribution of assets.
When there are insufficient funds to pay for taxes and debts
Determining which bills and taxes to prioritize is crucial as state laws specify the order of creditors that receive priority. Some bills are needed to be paid quickly, such as mortgage and insurance. If they aren’t paid timely, you could lose the properties. Moreover, complications on the part of the executor may occur if debts are mishandled. In this case, talk to a legal advisor to work out how the system works.
Hire an expert probate lawyer
Finding a probate lawyer is critical to prevent personal liability if an executor mishandles the estate assets and messes up in paying the creditors and beneficiaries. With this, you need to hire someone that is a good fit for you. Below are some attributes you need to assess:
Competent and communicate clearly and effectively
Find a legal advisor that knows how to guide and make you understand the dos and don’ts of probate. Moreover, determine if the lawyer is competent enough to solve unprecedented issues. There are instances that problems may arise that we didn’t anticipate, and some lawyers can handle this terribly, especially if they weren’t experienced enough. Thus, assess their years of expertise and the number of clients they handled.
Sympathetic and is conveniently available
You will usually have multiple questions in your mind that beg to be answered. Therefore, find an attorney who can readily answer questions personally or not and is compassionate and sympathetic to your situation. You are dealing with a lost loved one, so you need an advisor who understands your plight and does not invalidate your case.
Legal steps are required in distributing and transferring assets from a decedent. This is why you need to back yourself with a probate lawyer proven to be an expert in probate details and cooperate respectfully in the whole process.