Legal Help From a Probate Attorney

Has your loved one recently died & left you with will & inheritance legal issues? Read how, when & why to get legal help from a probate attorney today.

Probate law deals with the various legal processes required after a person dies. These processes involve validating wills, taking inventory of property and possessions, paying applicable taxes and more. What does a probate lawyer do? A probate lawyer helps navigate the nuances and legalities of these and many more processes during challenging, emotional times. Sometimes wills are contested. Property distribution among family members is often contentious. A probate lawyer steps in without conflicting emotions and helps defend your rights and the rights of the deceased.

Are you confused about the status of a will? Are you the rightful heir to an estate but family members are contesting your inheritance? Did a deceased loved one leave you with tax-related or other serious financial burdens? Read about how, when and why to get legal help from a probate attorney today.


Introduction to Probate Attorneys

A probate lawyer helps you navigate the nuances and legalities of the various legal processes required after a person dies. Examples of these processes include the validation of wills, taking inventory of the deceased’s property/possessions and dealing with outstanding debts. A probate attorney is licensed to work in one or more U.S. states and has previously undergone extensive education and certification processes. His or her job is to work with executors and beneficiaries to settle all relevant and applicable matters pertaining to an estate or the possessions of the deceased.

Many inheritance and estate issues are challenging, contentious and emotional. The job of a probate attorney is to focus on all applicable laws without emotion interfering or further complicating various necessary processes. Some situations, such as the validation of a will are commonplace occurrences. Litigation might take place when family members or other parties to a will or estate resolution disagree with the outcome or prior decisions made by the deceased. A probate attorney might also become more extensively involved in situations where the deceased has left behind a challenging and/or contested amount of debt, be it private or tax-related.

Types of Cases Taken by Probate Attorneys

While some probate situations are simple to manage, others are more detailed and challenging. The types of cases taken by probate attorneys range from commonplace to intense and complicated to outright contentious in nature. The role of a probate attorney and the types of cases he or she takes on are also somewhat affected by whether a will was written by the deceased or not at all.

Will Validation

It is common for a probate attorney to help validate the will of the deceased. This process takes place in court but is often a matter of formality. Sometimes a will is missing or has not been written, which leads to additional complications and possible litigation.

Contested Wills

Many wills are contested by frustrated family members who feel slighted when they are omitted from a will and denied an inheritance by the deceased. Other times wills are contested by family members when beneficiaries they deem to be unworthy are granted an inheritance. A probate attorney represents and defends both these types of cases and family members in court at various times during his or her career.

Tax Burdens & Other Debts

Sometimes the deceased leaves behind unexpected expenses for which family members become unwittingly responsible. These situations are confusing for family members at best and devastating at worst. A probate attorney helps negotiate settlements when possible. He or she helps make payment arrangements and even invalidate debts when errors are discovered. A probate attorney might also defend elderly family members from scam artists and fast-talking representatives from various organizations looking to use the deceased’s debt as a tool to purchase estate property and possessions below their market value.

Distribution of Assets

The distribution of the deceased’s assets might be impossible to handle accurately without the assistance of a probate attorney. This task extends beyond assigning ownership of physical property to various family members or will beneficiaries. Managing the estate’s checkbook and making payments to family members, debt collectors, charities and more is also part of asset distribution.

Other Tasks & Cases

Probate attorneys help file all necessary paperwork. Guidance and advice on how to pay off the deceased’s debts is provided. Setting up the appraisal of estate property and possessions is handled by a probate attorney. Finally, a probate attorney helps collect and manage the proceeds from life insurance policies as well.

How to Locate a Probate Attorney

Locating a qualified probate attorney near you is easy and convenient to do in modern times. The household-name search engine website Google generates over 7.5 million results when the search query, “locate a probate attorney near me,” is entered. Additional online resources available to help you locate a probate attorney include:

Costs of Hiring a Probate Attorney

The costs of hiring a probate attorney vary based on a vast range of circumstances. A probate attorney might even charge using a combination of billing practices for more complicated cases. Hourly rates for experienced probate attorneys might range from approximately $150 to $300 per hour and more. Location has an impact on the rates you pay. For example, a probate attorney in New York City is likely to cost significantly more than one licensed and practicing law in rural Nebraska.

Flat fees are also common for simpler cases where the probate attorney has an educated, advanced idea of how much time and effort will be required of him or her. The states of Arkansas, California, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Montana and Wyoming also allow probate attorneys to charge a percentage of the estate value or settlement amounts as applicable.