Probate Lawyers and Estate Laws
Probate lawyers specialize in estate laws. They are typically retained to handle distribution of assets and file legal documents for a person who has died. In most instances, people needing the services of a probate lawyer will want to retain a Transactional probate lawyer. However, if conflicts arise within the family or when claims are filed against the decedent's estate, a Probate Litigator may be required.
Transactional probate lawyers handle estate administration duties. If the decedent has executed a Last Will and Testament, transactional probate lawyers will file a copy of the original Will at the local courthouse in the county where the decedent resided. If the decedent dies intestate (without leaving a Will), transactional probate lawyers will appoint an Estate Administrator and assist them in matters regarding the estate.
Additional duties handled by transactional probate lawyers include providing notification letters to the decedent's creditors, filing affidavits for real estate transactions, executing Consent to Transfer forms for bank and investment accounts and filing final tax returns.
Probate litigators specialize in handling estates surrounded in controversy. A probate litigator is required when family members dispute distribution of assets or if an heir apparent has been disinherited. If lawsuits are pending or filed against the estate during the probate process, probate litigators are retained to defend the estate.
Some probate lawyers are trained in both transactions and litigations. It's a good idea to interview several probate lawyers prior to needing their services. Locating a probate lawyer to administer a family member's estate is considerably more difficult to do when you are grieving. This is particularly true when there is discord within the family or lawsuits pending against the estate.
When meeting with probate lawyers it's imperative to be prepared. Probate lawyers either charge an hourly fee or take a percentage of the gross value of the estate. When calling to arrange a meeting with probate lawyers be certain to ask for a list of required information. At minimum, you will need the decedent's social security number, date of birth, contracts and legal documents such as the executed Will, Living Trust, property deeds, life insurance policies and previous year tax returns.
When estates consist of significant real estate holdings, seek out probate lawyers who specialize in real property law. Real estate holdings can become complex and complicated during the probate process. Therefore, you want to work with someone who understands the intricacies of real property and tax rulings.
Prearranged estate planning can help people avoid probate altogether. Many probate lawyers specialize in trusts and estate planning. In order to avoid probate, individuals must setup a Revocable Living Trust in addition to executing their Last Will and Testament.
Probate lawyers can be found in phone directories, by conducting research via the Internet or contacting the American Bar Association. Also consider asking friends, relatives or co-workers for probate lawyer referrals. Asking for referrals prior to beginning your search could save you hours of time, frustration and stress.
Published on August 17, 2008 at 08:44 AM | Comments: 1