What the Right Probate Attorney Can Do For You

The estate planning process can be enough of a burden itself and that’s before you even get to probate court. The probate process can be relatively straightforward as the courts read out the last wishes of the estate, but that’s only if the probate is uncontested. When probate is contested, you’re going to need the right lawyer on your side whether you’re a representative of the estate or a beneficiary.

Contested probate means someone disagrees with the way the estate is being executed. This could be a beneficiary arguing their share of assets is insufficient or someone other than the estate lays claim to assets laid out in a will. Without the right attorney, this process can become painful, expensive, and lead to unnecessary rifts between loved ones.

Probate attorney’s role before death

While probate is the process of estate administration following death, you can have the same lawyer serve as your estate attorney and probate attorney. In this case, the estate’s attorney will work with the estate to ensure the will is enforceable. States have different laws governing what and how much of a certain asset can be transferred upon death as well as guidelines laying out how those assets can be administered. An experienced attorney will understand these laws, and you will get greater peace of mind from start to finish. A thorough estate plan will prevent contested probate.

You can also have different lawyers handle estate planning vs. probate, but you will want to make sure both are experienced and in tune with the estate plan. If the estate attorney fails to put together a sound plan it will only make the probate attorney’s job more difficult.

Probate attorney’s role after death

Your chosen probate attorney’s role kicks into overdrive immediately after death. They will gather all necessary documents relevant to the estate to prepare for court. All documents will be reviewed to ensure they not only have legal standing but are executable as desired by the estate. This process can include:

  • Verifying state laws are followed
  • Confirming assets are actually owned and valued as claimed by the estate
  • Securing and insuring all assets as necessary
  • Calculating all debts owed by the estate and ensuring payment of those debts
  • Executing the transfer of assets to beneficiaries as laid out by the estate

The attorney will work closely with the executor (the estate can assign an attorney as the executor, as well) to ensure the legal execution of the last wishes of the estate.

Probate attorney’s role after the contest is filed

All of the above are necessary steps to prevent this situation, but not every probate goes uncontested. If an individual or entity gets involved in the probate process and contests claims laid out by the estate, your attorney will essentially serve as the defense attorney. They will need to prove the legality of the aspects being contested, though the person who is contesting the will carries the burden of proof.

If the entire will is contested and eventually thrown out, the court will decide how assets are distributed according to state law. The right probate attorney can help during this process, as well, by pushing for distribution near the wishes of the estate or to the value originally listed for a beneficiary. The same applies to when someone dies without a will.

Find the right probate attorney

Probate can be messy. Don’t go into it alone. Do your research and pick the right attorney for your situation. At the Law Offices of Ray Garcia, P.A., our work speaks for itself. Contact us today and let us make sure your wishes are honored.