If a loved one is nearing the end of his or her life, it’s important to settle personal affairs and make sure the belongings will be appropriately distributed and taken care of. A will can be a legally binding way to prove in a court of law how one’s estate is settled. Many people aren’t sure whether they need the help of a probate lawyer. While this often isn’t necessary, professional legal counsel can be beneficial.
Determine Whether Probate Is Necessary
There are some scenarios in which you won’t need to hire a probate lawyer or even go to probate at all. If you fall into one of these categories, the transfer of property should be smooth and can take place outside of the courtroom.
- Assets in a living trust
- Assets where the deceased person selected a beneficiary; these include insurance policies and retirement accounts
- Assets in joint tenancy
- Survivorship community property
Situations Where You’ll Need Probate
Whenever you’re dealing with another person’s property, stakes are high. In most cases, surviving family members handle the distribution of the assets well and don’t squabble over the will. However, there are occasions where dependents and other loved ones argue about the will. If discussions and agreements are at a standstill, it might be helpful to hire a legal professional. A lawyer can help stabilize the situation and get everyone on the same page. Your lawyer can help avoid lengthy and needless court battles as well. Also, in some states, there is a set of laws called the Uniform Probate Code, where it required to go to court. Find out whether your state has these regulations. However, the proceedings should be simple and straightforward.
Benefits of a Probate Lawyer
If you determine you’ll need to go to probate, an experienced attorney can be beneficial. This can especially be the case if a business is involved. Skilled attorneys have knowledge of complicated situations where you may need to appraise or sell the business. Also, if you don’t have enough money to pay the taxes and other debts, you should consult an expert. A licensed attorney specializes in areas that will be beyond your scope to understand or handle.
Wills and the transfer of property after one’s death are serious matters that you don’t want to undervalue. In some cases, you should be able to smoothly handle a loved one’s affairs when he or she dies. However, in some of the other events described, legal counsel is your best choice.