Do You Need to Hire a Lawyer for Probate?
Being responsible for someone else’s finances is stressful, no matter the circumstances. Whether you have just taken on a new managerial job at a company that is struggling financially or if you have just married someone who still has a lot of financial unfinished business from a previous marriage, you feel compelled to solve problems, even if you didn’t create them. When you add in the grief of losing a family member, being responsible for the probate of your relative’s estate is doubly stressful. Trying to sort out someone’s family disputes and business dealings is difficult no matter when you do it, but it is especially hard to do less than a month after losing a close family member. Sometimes all you need to get through probate is patience and reassurance that it will be resolved within a few months, but if things are really complicated, you should hire a Florida probate lawyer.
Why Do People Hire Probate Lawyers?
Most people do not need to hire a lawyer for probate. In fact, the more estate planning a person does while he or she is alive, the easier the probate process will be for the person’s family. In an article on Million Acres, Liz Brumer explains that the hardest parts of probate are valuing the deceased person’s assets and locating and paying creditors. The more detailed your financial records you keep during your lifetime, especially in your old age, the easier it will be for your surviving relatives and the court to value your assets and satisfy your outstanding debts and tax obligations, if any. The more room there is for disagreement about what the deceased person owed or how much he or she owed and to whom, the longer the probate will take and the more money can potentially be lost from the estate by the time the probate process is finished.
Family disputes are another reason that people hire probate lawyers, but you can usually see these disputes coming even while the testator is alive. The best time to talk to a lawyer about what your stepmother or estranged sister will do with your father’s estate is now, while your father is still alive.
Situations Where You Should Hire a Probate Lawyer
You should hire a lawyer if any of the following situations apply:
- The deceased person did not leave a will, and his or her estate is valuable
- The deceased person owed money on real estate properties, or used those properties to secure loans that had an outstanding balance at the time of the person’s death, but you would like to keep those properties
- It is unclear which state is the deceased person’s legal domicile
- You think that someone will dispute the authenticity of the will or claim that it was signed under undue influence
- The deceased person had unresolved problems with the IRS at the time of death
Contact an Attorney Today for Help
Most probate disputes can be prevented if the testator and his or her relatives meet with estate planning lawyers while the testator is still living. Contact Clearwater probate attorney William Rambaum for a consultation on your case.