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What Does a Probate Attorney Do?

Updated: May 7

Distributing assets from the estate of a loved one who recently passed away is rarely a simple process.

The probate process can be necessary if someone passes away either with or without a will, so it's usually unavoidable.

An experienced probate attorney will guide you through every step of probate. They will help identify assets and debts left behind by your loved one.

While hiring a probate attorney to help you through this process isn't legally required, it's typically in your best interest to do so. Here's what a probate attorney does and why it's beneficial to hire one.

What is a Probate Attorney?

A probate attorney is a licensed attorney who helps settle the assets and debts of a decedent. They will work with beneficiaries to ensure everything is properly allocated.

Probate attorneys help with every step of the probate process, but they could also help with estate planning that's set up before someone passes away.

Since our attorney handles estate planning and probate, we can assist with:

  • Designating beneficiaries

  • Locating assets

  • Handling outstanding taxes, debts, and bills

  • Document preparation and filing

  • Collecting life insurance

  • Asset allocation and distribution

  • Estate appraisal

Should I Hire a Probate Attorney?

Yes, it's recommended to hire a probate attorney. It isn’t legally required, but hiring a probate attorney will allow for a smooth asset transfer.

It's even more important to hire a probate lawyer if your probate situation is especially complicated. This includes things such as the decedent not having a will, a large estate that needs to be allocated, complicated assets, and complex relationships with beneficiaries.

Why Should I Hire a Probate Attorney?

In most cases, probate takes six months to a year or more. Mistakes in your probate filing can cause the process to be in the upper range of this timeframe. Hiring a probate attorney can ensure no mistakes are made and all assets can be properly allocated as soon as possible.

In addition to helping you file probate, a probate attorney can make sure that all existing title documents are correct.

For example, two men want to buy land together. Each man has one child and would like their children to acquire each half of the land after their passing. This would mean the land deed should be signed with “tenants in common” so each respective half can be allocated to the designated child. However, they end up signing the deed as joint tenants by mistake. Signing as joint tenants means when one man passes, his half of the land legally belongs to the surviving owner instead of being given to his child.

Mistakes like this are common and can cause months of litigation and negotiation.

Important Questions to Ask a Probate Attorney

To get the most out of your probate attorney, these are some important questions to ask:

  • What is your experience with probate?

  • Have you handled similar cases?

  • How will I be billed?

Depending on your financial status, certain billing models may be more appealing than others. For example, atCAUSE Law charges a flat rate so you don’t have to worry about any surprises from an expensive hourly rate.

Our team strives to be as transparent as possible. We are working for you and don’t want there to be any unexpected costs.

Is a Probate Attorney the Same as an Estate Attorney?

While they are similar, they are not exactly the same.

The main distinction is that a probate attorney works with beneficiaries after someone passes away, while estate attorneys focus on getting everything in place beforehand:

  • Probate attorney - A probate attorney works with the family or beneficiaries of a deceased person to assist with the probate process.

  • Estate attorney - Estate attorneys work with a person before they pass to get all of their assets in order. They help arrange wills, trusts, and any other relevant documents related to distributing assets after a person dies.

Since probate and estate law they are related, many attorneys, including ours, handle both probate and estate planning. Because our attorney is experienced with both, we can lend a hand no matter your situation.

Are You Looking for an Experienced Probate Attorney?

If you have to go through the probate process, contact us today to speak with a probate attorney.

Whether you want to make sure your assets are properly allocated to loved ones, or you need help settling the estate of a decedent, we're here for you. You don’t have to do this alone.

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