When a loved one dies, there are a lot of undesirable tasks you will need to complete while saying your goodbyes and settling their estate.
Probate can fall under this category. Dividing up a family member’s assets and belongings is never something anyone wants to do, but unfortunately, it has to be done. And it has to be done in a way that follows the legal process around probate.
Part of this process is taking care of the deceased’s outstanding bills and dividing their other financial accounts. This can be messy, and it’s essential to follow the laws around handling these accounts. Because of this, it’s recommended that you hire a probate lawyer to help settle financial issues.
What is Probate?
First of all, it’s crucial to level set on what exactly probate is. This can be a term you’ve heard a lot but aren’t sure what it means.
By definition, probate is the legal process of administering a person’s estate after their death. This includes distributing their assets to their beneficiaries. While in most cases a person leaves a will behind that provides instructions for how their estate should be divided, when there is not, the estate must go through the probate courts.
Probate Lawyer Vs. Estate Planning Attorney
When organizing your assets, or those belonging to a loved one, you might wonder when you need to hire an estate planning lawyer and when you need a probate lawyer.
There are key differences between the two.
You would hire an estate planning lawyer while you are alive to organize your assets, create a will or a trust, and assign powers of attorney. These attorneys help you prepare for your end-of-life care and wishes.
In contrast, you would hire a probate lawyer after a loved one has passed. You need their help in administering the estate and guiding you through the probate process.
How Probate Lawyers Help With Financial Issues
One of the items a probate lawyer can help you and your family with is handling pending financial matters that your deceased loved one left behind.
While they can handle a variety of financial matters, some common issues they help with are:
- Locate and secure the person’s bank accounts. This can include savings accounts and checking accounts. They might also be tasked with managing their checkbook.
- Collect on their life insurance policy. A probate lawyer knows what documentation and what forms need to be submitted to collect on any life insurance policies held by the deceased.
- In some cases, you might need to know the worth of your loved one’s estate. A probate lawyer can help facilitate an appraisal of their assets.
- Work with an accountant to prepare their final income tax and estate tax returns.
- Assess any outstanding bills and debts and pay them off as needed.
This list will vary by person and family. There might be specific financial questions you have for a probate lawyer, or there might be processes your attorney can help you through to try to get out of probate as soon as possible.
While it might seem like your loved one’s finances are straightforward and you think you can handle them and the probate process on your own, it’s important to not overlook the emotional aspect. Digging through the deceased’s accounts can be difficult, and when you’re dealing with money, tempers can flare within the family. A probate lawyer is a third party who can objectively handle the accounts and file the paperwork on your behalf.
Why Hire Us
Are you curious if you need a probate lawyer to help with your loved one’s finances? Let the experts at Johnstone Adams LLC represent you.
Ranked in the 2022 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list regionally in 12 practice areas, we have experts in many areas of law to give our clients top-notch representation. In business for more than a century, our firm can mix its experience with the ability to evolve with the changing times.
To get started, contact us at 251-319-4659 or email@example.com.