Handling A Loved One’s Estate: Do You Need To Hire A Probate Attorney?

When handling the estate of a deceased loved one, you are bound to run into some questions regarding your role as executor. One of these questions will likely be whether or not you need to hire a probate attorney. Taking the time to answer the questions below can help you to determine whether or not you require the legal advice and other services offered by this type of attorney.

Is anyone contesting your loved one's will?

While it is not common for family members to contest a loved one's will, this does happen from time to time. If a family member has made their intention to contest an existing will or the distribution of assets in any way, it is important to contact a probate attorney immediately. This attorney may be able to help you quickly resolve the dispute so that you can avoid the estate being drained of significant assets as the result of a long, drawn-out legal battle. Resolving these types of issues quickly can also help to preserve precious family ties that can be irreparably strained by fighting over an estate. 

Does the estate include a business?

Estates that are comprised of only common personal assets such as houses and vehicles are relatively easy to handle. However, things can become far more complex when the deceased owned or was a partial owner of a business. If your role as executor will require you to have a business appraised, transferred, or sold, it is always best to involve a qualified probate attorney to ensure this process is completed in a way that complies with all local, state, and federal laws.

Does the estate include enough money to pay off final debts?

People often mistakenly believe that they do not need to hire a probate lawyer if their loved one did not even have enough cash on hand to cover their final expenses. After all, with minimal assets to divide you would think this would be the easiest type of estate to settle. This is not always the case. 

If your loved one did not have enough money in their estate to cover all of their final debts, you should contact a probate attorney before you pay any of their creditors. This is extremely important as the law provides priority to certain types of creditors. A probate attorney will be able to ensure that the assets are properly distributed to the correct creditors so that you can avoid any potential judgments being filed against you in regards to your loved one's outstanding debts.