How Can a Probate Attorney Help You?
Probate court can be very confusing and time-consuming for someone who is not familiar with the process. No need to worry though. An experienced probate attorney can advise and assist the Personal Representative (Executor) of the estate with the following:
Identifying Necessary Documents
When a family member or friend passes away, the Personal Representative of the estate must identify and locate various important documents that will be used by the probate court to determine how the deceased person’s property should be distributed. These documents may include: a death certificate, last will and testament, real estate deeds, financial information, funeral bills, etc.
Preparing Court Filings
In order to start the probate process, someone needs to prepare and file the necessary documents with the court. These documents typically need to be prepared by an attorney. Hiring the right probate attorney can help streamline this process and ensure that all of the right forms and documents are submitted to the probate court for processing.
Inventory of Probate Assets
The Personal Representative of the estate must take an inventory of all of the decedent’s assets and determine which assets should be included in the probate estate. This may require the Personal Representative to review life insurance documents, real estate deeds, titling of accounts, beneficiary designations and trust documents. Having an experienced probate attorney to help with this process can be extremely beneficial.
Settling Outstanding Debts
Once all of the decedent’s assets are inventoried, the Personal Representative of the estate is required (most of the time) to provide notice to the decedent’s creditors so that any outstanding debt claims can be addressed and paid accordingly.
Distribution of Assets
Once the decedent’s probate estate is inventoried and all debts are paid, the Personal Representative is required to distribute the remaining probate assets according to a will or intestate laws. This process may require that certain assets be appraised/sold and a probate attorney can help and advise the Personal Representative throughout this process.