A probate attorney, also known as an estate lawyer, is someone you can turn to for advice and guidance to take you, as the executor, from start to finish in everything pertaining to your family’s, estate. While their input is important, it can be intimidating to meet with a probate lawyer for the first time if you are not prepared.
Here are five things you should know about probate attorneys and what to expect from them before you meet for the first time.
- 1 5 Things Clients Should Know About Probate Attorneys
- 1.1 1. The estate is footing the bill.
- 1.2 2. Probate costs are separate from legal fees.
- 1.3 3. Probate lawyers have to have a deep understanding of taxes.
- 1.4 4. In addition to a probate expert, your attorney also has to be a skilled mediator.
- 1.5 5. A probate attorney must take into account all outstanding debts prior to distributing assets.
- 2 Your Probate Lawyer is There to Help
5 Things Clients Should Know About Probate Attorneys
1. The estate is footing the bill.
As the estate’s executor, you do not have to pay the fee for the attorney. It comes out of the estate itself before the assets are distributed to the inheritors.
2. Probate costs are separate from legal fees.
Your probate attorney will likely charge by the hour, a flat fee, or a percentage of the estate. Ask your lawyer when you meet with them how they will be billing their fee.
They also will probably add on costs and expenses, which are different than the hourly rates. Expenses and costs include things like postage, filing fees, appraisals, and other fees. Make sure you understand how the estate will be charged.
3. Probate lawyers have to have a deep understanding of taxes.
In addition to giving you a step-by-step process from start to finish of the estate’s probate, your lawyer has to know how each step will have taxable consequences.
He or she must understand and advise you on how to handle retirement plans, life insurance policies, income taxes, estate and inheritance taxes at both the federal and state levels, and more.
4. In addition to a probate expert, your attorney also has to be a skilled mediator.
Inheritances are often tricky subjects and families may fall into discord when they don’t agree on an estate’s terms.
A probate attorney often ends up settling disputes between the beneficiaries through negotiation and mediation. All official disputes must be settled before any assets can be dispersed.
5. A probate attorney must take into account all outstanding debts prior to distributing assets.
The probate lawyer will secure probate and non-probate assets and compile an inventory of assets and debts. Once the documents are all filed correctly and the bills and taxes are taken care of, then the beneficiaries are given their portion of the estate.
Your Probate Lawyer is There to Help
It’s easy to feel intimidated by someone when you are going through the loss of a loved one and you have to deal with their estate as executor. But the probate lawyer is there to help you through this tough process as your guide into the legal areas of inheritances.
Armed with a better understanding of what a probate attorney does and what to expect when you meet with them, you can utilize this opportunity to reduce your stress, get advice and instructions, and focus on healing from your loss instead of worrying about the estate concerns.