By hiring a probate attorney, executors and surviving family members can make probate’s stressful and slow task much easier.
Probate is the legal process of proving a will and determining inheritors before distributing the estate. While probate isn’t always required, most assets of high value, such as real estate, require it.
If you’re the executor of an estate, probate can be an overwhelming and often extremely tense task to manage. You might have family members making accusations or face other complications such as debt claims. If done incorrectly, you could face personal liability.
Our team has put together a list of the top ten reasons people benefit when hiring a probate attorney:
Top Reasons to Use a Probate Attorney
1. Gain Access to the Estate Sooner
The probate process may take as long as 24 months.
This can be highly frustrating for all involved, as surviving family members have to wait for their inheritance. However, if everything is done correctly and efficiently, then probate can be completed in under a year – sometimes in as little as three to four months.
Hiring a probate attorney can help you speed up the process. They’ll know exactly what to do ahead of time and avoid costly or time-consuming mistakes.
2. Avoid Family Conflicts
The most common reason people regret not hiring a probate attorney is because of family conflicts.
Sadly, many probate processes include some tensions and in-fighting. Sometimes, it can be almost justified because there has been a miscommunication or poor management by the executor.
But any fighting can slow the process down or cause significant pain in family relations.
By hiring a probate attorney, you can avoid family conflicts. The lawyer will take the sense of independence away from the executor as the other family members will know the executor isn’t dealing with the estate incorrectly.
They’ll also be able to explain any part of the process to the other family members, avoiding one-to-one arguments with the executor.
3. Avoid Legal Claims Against the Estate
In many probate cases, people will make claims against the estate.
A typical example is when someone hasn’t been named in the will and feels they should have. Or someone who feels they’ve been treated unfairly.
A lawyer will make it clear there is a trusted individual involved who is not there for personal gain. This can significantly reduce the number of claims against the estate, which are a primary reason for slow probate.
4. To Ensure You Check Every Box
Probate can include documents with over 50 pages. It can be very complicated. One overlooked application or document can cause the house of cards to come crashing down and you’ll lose months of time.
However, by hiring a probate attorney, you can avoid this. Anyone who may be interested in the estate will be served notice and they’ll go through every step of the process in deep detail. No stone is unturned. With their professional training, expertise and experience, they know exactly what to look for.
5. Avoid Rejection of the Estate
In the worst-case scenario, a mistake can result in the estate being rejected by the probate court. If this happens, the process will have to restart all over again.
By having a probate lawyer assist you, you will not miss anything and avoid having the estate rejected due to a formality.
6. Resolve All Debts
When someone passes away, they may still have outstanding debts that the estate must pay. As an executor, it’s your responsibility to take care of these debts.
This can be a very time-consuming process. Taxes, funeral costs, outstanding bills and loans are just a few examples of debts that need resolving.
You can avoid over or underpaying or missing important financial details by hiring a probate lawyer.
Plus, you can gain assistance with notifying creditors of the death and obtaining the necessary death certificate or legal documents.
Debts and expenses can also be very stressful and complicated, especially after the death of a loved one. By hiring a probate attorney, you’ll gain expert advice with peace of mind.
7. Support for the Executor
As you can see, the executor of any estate has a lot to take care of. The responsibility is on them. From reading the will to potentially handling family conflicts, things can get very stressful when you also need to think of every single legal factor.
Many executors that we’ve worked with say the main reason to hire a probate lawyer is simply for peace of mind. Taking this on alone is tough. A lawyer will remove a lot of that burden and ensure you’re protected from personal liability.
8. Save Money
Hiring a probate lawyer, of course, comes with extra costs. But, these costs are insignificant compared to the costs of failing to administer the Estate successfully.
Any legal claim against yourself (as an executor) or the estate will require further lawyer’s fees, which may be substantially more if a lawsuit progresses over time.
9. You Won’t Miss Deadlines
Every executor thinks they know all the deadlines until they don’t. For example, if you don’t realize (or fail to meet) the probate application deadline, then you’re in big trouble.
However, a probate attorney will have completed this process hundreds of times. They know all the deadlines, from creditor notification to probate court applications – ensuring the probate process is quick and without delay.
Relevant Reading: How Long Do I Have to Start Probate in Florida?
10. They Have Valuable Resources
Reputable probate attorneys work for law firms with great connections, finances and resources. This can be a game-changer for anyone struggling with a complicated or slow probate process.
For example, once a Grant of Probate is issued, the Executor may need to hold funds in a trust for minor beneficiaries.
A probate lawyer cannot act as an accountant, but they can refer you to experienced and reputable tax specialists and accountants.
Finally, reputable probate attorneys will have a strong standing in the local legal community to access helpful information and documents faster than you may have when going alone.
Hire a Probate Attorney Today
If you’re an executor or beneficiary in need of legal assistance during the probate process, then our Florida probate attorneys can help. From reading a will to tackle legal claims, we’re just a phone call away.
Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With award-winning experienced estate planning attorneys, they can help you to avoid complications during the administration of an estate.