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Probate Lawyers Near You

Kenneth L. Sheppard Jr. avatar
Kenneth L. Sheppard, Jr. is the President and Owner of Sheppard Law Offices, Co., L.P.A.Kenneth graduated from Ohio Northern University in 1996 with a Bachelor ...
Scott David Stewart avatar
Stewart Law Group is a firm focused on Divorce, Family Law and Child Custody with eight offices in the Greater Phoenix area.Whether you're facing a divorce, cus...
Steven Basche avatar
Estate planning is not just for millionaires. You may not think you have an estate, let alone any need for a plan, but if you have children, if you have things ...
Simon J. Lebo avatar
Attorney Simon Lebo joined the firm in 1999 and is current chair of the Trusts and Estates Department. His principal areas of practice include Elder & Medicaid...
Andrew R. Veale avatar
When you’re involved in a dispute regarding a loved one, you may feel like you are alone in the fight. You want to know you’ve got the right advocate in your co...
Carmine Perri avatar
Carmine was admitted to the Connecticut Bar in 2005, the U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut in 2005, and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 2011.C...
Bryan M. Etter avatar
Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.), Tulane University Law School, 2012; Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Finance, University of Connecticut, 2009. Admitt...
Matthew A. Wiley avatar
Attorney Wiley worked extensively throughout his undergraduate and law school years in the financial services industry. During the course of this period he spen...
Richard E. Palumbo Jr. avatar
PALUMBO LAW aggressively and sensibly advocates for and protects the legal rights of homeowners, real estate investors, business owners and businesses with comp...

It is traumatic to lose a loved one. Often, the threat of litigation can hang over a family in the midst of grief. Unfortunately, one of the important tasks following a death is to see to their last wishes and the dispersal of their estate. A court may challenge your right to distribute the estate of a next-of-kin if you are named executor in a will. You can consult a probate solicitor to find out where to file a will so that you can obtain probate permission, and what to do if your authority as an estate trustee is questioned.

What is a Probate Lawyer?

Probate lawyers work with executors and beneficiaries of estates to settle their affairs. When all the decedent's assets are in a trust, probate may be avoided. With a trust, transfers of property can be made without court involvement. However, in more complicated cases or unexpected deaths, a probate lawyer may be necessary to navigate the legal process.

What Does a Probate Law Attorney Do?

Upon death, a person's assets must be distributed in accordance with state law and as directed in their will. Probate law lawyers near you assist executors of wills and beneficiaries of estates with all aspects of probate, from identifying assets and beneficiaries to disbursing inheritances and estate assets.

Executors and beneficiaries may seek assistance from a probate lawyer for legal advice with the following tasks:

  • Collecting life insurance proceeds
  • Asset identification and protection
  • Appraising the deceased's real estate
  • Payment of debts and bills
  • Preparation and filing of all probate court documents
  • Satisfying debts and taxes on estates and inheritances
  • Dealing with tax issues
  • Account management for estates
  • Transfer of assets in a decedent's name to the beneficiaries
  • Paying all bills and taxes and distributing assets to beneficiaries

When to Hire a Probate Lawyer?

Estate Administration

Upon death, the probate court is tasked with dividing and distributing the estate. It involves a lot of paperwork and deadlines. For the surviving members of the estate, a probate lawyer makes everything seamless and straightforward.

Estate Planning

Estate planning is often handled by probate lawyers. In complex estates, the client may want to place the asset in a trust to avoid federal estate tax. An estate or probate lawyer is well-versed in trusts and wills.

Preventing Family Disputes

There is often tension among surviving family members when an estate owner dies. Probate lawyers handle the probate process without bias.

Protect Beneficiaries from Lawsuits

A probate lawyer represents beneficiaries and personal representatives in lawsuits. Moreover, they prevent family members from suing each other. A probate lawyer can also challenge the validity of the departed owner's last will.

Manage the decedent's debts

Debt can consume a large portion of the property if not managed properly. Besides taxes, personal loans, and funeral expenses, there are many other expenses to consider.

Beneficiaries are often unfamiliar with the estate's property and paperwork. Probate lawyers are best equipped to handle debts to protect the estate.

How Do I Choose a Probate Attorney?

Start the vetting process when you have several prospective best probate lawyers near you, either through recommendations or by searching. Here are some criteria you can use.

1. Experience & Qualifications

Learn about the educational background and area of expertise of the potential lawyer in the biography. Consider a good attorney with experience in probate, trusts, and estates. Ensure your lawyer has experience.

2. Credibility

Investigate the lawyer's office in detail. Check online reviews. Get a variety of opinions to avoid bias. Get to know the lawyer's mastery of probate issues by reading the firm's website and blog.

3. Association membership

Check whether your lawyer is a member of any local or national associations. Ensure the candidate is a member of the bar of association.

4. Other Certifications

Your probate lawyer should be licensed in your country. Additional certifications prove extensive experience. Focus on if the law office is well-versed in probate, estates, and/or trusts.

5. Retention Agreement

Before signing, get a copy of the lawyer's retainer agreement. To understand what to expect, ask your lawyer for details.

6. Unique Needs

A lawyer with specialized skills may be needed depending on your probate requirements. For example, you may have to deal with parties who speak a foreign language. Your lawyer must understand the dialect.

7. Communication Skills

Law firms sometimes use so much professional jargon that their clientele doesn't understand what they're saying. Do not hire someone who cannot explain themselves. The lawyer has to be aware of your inexperience and answer your questions in terms that you understand.

How Much Does the Probate Lawyer Average Cost?

When a loved one dies, we're often overwhelmed with a plethora of tasks that have nothing to do with grieving -- managing finances, planning a funeral, and dealing with the probate legal process. Expenses can quickly pile up.

For many families, hiring an attorney is the most expensive part of the probate process. It typically costs between $3,500 and $7,000 for a simple case to hire a probate attorney. Complicated estates or contentious probates that include litigation, however, are more expensive.

You may choose to work with an attorney or choose other options to reduce the cost of probate if you are familiar with how they charge for their services.

Do Probate Lawyers Usually Charge for Consultations?

If they bill by the hour, probate law attorneys near you typically charge fees between $250 and $310 per hour to handle the estate administration.

Almost one-third of probate lawyers charge a flat fee for probate services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is responsible for administering my estate or trust?

Your executor is responsible for carrying out the instructions set out in your will. The trustee of a trust established in a will and probate has a similar role, but for a much longer period. Usually, the trustee is in charge until all assets have been distributed. Co-executors or co-trustees can be family members, children, friends, or financial institutions.

Trustees are also typically given some discretion over trust funds and when beneficiaries are to receive distributions.

Executors and trustees have significant responsibilities despite their simple titles. As part of their final tasks, creditors must be paid or negotiated with, beneficiaries must be notified and paid, the final tax return must be filed, and investments need to be managed. These are all important responsibilities.

How long does it take to resolve a case?

You will have to wait for your case to be resolved depending on the circumstances. Depending on factors such as whether and how vigorously the case is defended, the availability and quality of evidence, and the availability of the court, the timeline can be affected.

During probate, what happens to the debt I leave behind?

Any debts you have at the time of your death must be settled, regardless of whether you have a will or a trust (or neither). Your property may need to be sold to pay debts if your assets are not liquid. Trustees and executors can negotiate with creditors to repay debts over time, and often do.