When a person passes away, their assets must be disbursed in a manner that abides by state laws and follows the instructions left in the will. A probate lawyer handles the process of estate administration after a person passes away. Our Florida probate teams outline what a probate lawyer does, when a probate lawyer is necessary, and how one can assist you.
What Is a Probate Lawyer?
Probate is the legal procedure an estate goes through after someone passes away. A probate lawyer is a state-licensed professional who helps executors of a will or the beneficiaries of an estate get through the probate process to settle an estate. Probate attorneys generally represent an heir to an estate, personal representative, or the estate itself.
How Can a Probate Lawyer Help
Here are some of the common duties a probate lawyer may assist an executor and beneficiaries with during the probate process:
- Get the deceased's property appraised
- Find and secure all of the decedent's assets
- Advice on how to pay the decedent's bills and settle the debt
- Collect and manage life insurance proceeds
- Prepare and file documents as required by a probate court
- Manage the estate's checkbook
- Determine whether any estate taxes are owed
The Probate Process
The probate process time frame ranges depending on the particularities of the case, but in general, it usually takes six to nine months from start to finish. The process includes:
- Appointing a personal representative
- 90 days creditor's period that must run
- Payment of creditor's claims
We will outline the probate process in nine simple steps to help you better understand what to anticipate during this time.
- Hire an attorney
- File a petition with the probate court
- Notify the deceased's creditors
- Assess the worth of the estate in question
- Pay valid debts
- File and pay estate taxes
- Finalize estate's accounting
- Distribute remaining assets to beneficiaries
- Close the estate
Questions to Ask a Probate Attorney
When selecting the best probate attorney for your needs, you should ask a few questions to ensure they fit your case well. As a client, you have the right to ask questions and better understand the process. Such questions could include:
- How long have they practiced probate law?
- What documents will I need?
- How are creditors handled?
- How does probate work?
- What do I do in the case someone is mishandling the estate?
Your Due Diligence
More than half of American adults do not have a will in place. Having your estate affairs in order will make it easier for your loved ones to carry out your last wishes. The last thing anyone wants is those closest to you struggling in probate court while grieving. Consulting with a law firm specializing in probate and estate planning is highly recommended. Having legal guidance will save you time and frustration.
Hiring an attorney can also provide a key advantage when handling and collecting assets, including managing any proceeds from retirement and life insurance policies to ensure nothing gets left behind.
How We Can Help You
Probate can be overwhelming and confusing at times. You may encounter challenging roadblocks such as contested wills or the complexities of handling estate taxes. We understand how troubling the loss of a loved one can be. We are prepared to help guide you toward a beneficial solution for all parties involved. At Adrian Philip Thomas, P.A., we specialize in a variety of probate matters to ensure you see a smooth and efficient process.
To schedule a free consultation with our team, do not hesitate to contact us today through our website or give us a call at (800) 776-3103.