What Does a Probate Lawyer Do?
A probate lawyer plays a crucial role in guiding clients through the complex process of administering estates. They assist individuals appointed as administrators, personal representatives, or executors in fulfilling their responsibilities. This involves tasks such as managing the deceased person’s debts and ensuring the proper distribution of estate assets as dictated by the will or state laws.
While both probate and estate planning attorneys deal with estate-related matters, there is a distinction between their areas of focus. A probate lawyer primarily handles the administration of estates after an individual passes away. They may step in as executors or administrators if no one else has been designated for the role.
On the other hand, estate planning attorneys work with clients while they are still alive to establish comprehensive plans for the future. This includes drafting wills, trusts, living trusts, and assigning powers of attorney. They also assist in creating long-term care plans and implementing strategies to minimize tax implications for inherited assets.
Attorney Christy K. Brown, specializes in both estate planning and probate law, offering clients a comprehensive range of services to address their specific needs.
Probate is the process by which a court legally recognizes a person’s death and authorizes the administration—that is, the management and distribution—of their estate. The simple purpose of probate is to transfer the assets out of a deceased person’s name and into the names of the living.
My Family Member Died but Did Not Leave a Will. What Do I Need To Do?
The estate may need to be probated, depending on (1) the size of the deceased’s estate and (2) the type of assets and/or property in the estate. It is especially important to seek legal counsel if the deceased family member owned real property.
Do I Always Need to Probate an Estate To Take Care of the Decedent’s Property?
Some of the decedent’s property may pass without the need for probate, because it is not a part of the probate estate. These are generally items that already have assigned beneficiaries. Examples of property that does not need to go through the probate process include:
- Life insurance. If the life insurance policy has a living beneficiary, the beneficiary should contact the insurance company directly about receiving the benefits.
- Bank accounts. If there is a “payable on death” form associated with an account, there is no need for the account to be part of the probate estate. The money can be accessed from the account by taking a death certificate to the bank.
- Retirement accounts. If there is a retirement account, contact the company managing the account directly to find out about the beneficiaries and any payout.
- TODD. If there is a Transfer on Death Deed (TODD) related to any real property (such as land or a house), the deed may transfer the real estate without the need for probate.
What Are the Benefits of Avoiding Probate?
Collaborating with an attorney to navigate and minimize the probate process offers a significant advantage: it saves both time and money. Probate, being a court-administered procedure, often involves multiple proceedings and hearings. It can extend over several months, and in some cases, even years, as your loved ones work to gather your assets and settle accompanying debts.
If your goal is to maximize the wealth you pass on to your beneficiaries, engaging an attorney beforehand allows you to develop a robust plan. Attorney Christy K. Brown, in addition to estate planning, can provide valuable tax advice, helping to minimize costs for your loved ones.
In the event that you find yourself responsible for initiating the probate process due to inheriting an estate through a will, undertaking it alone can be arduous, time-consuming, and emotionally draining—particularly when coping with the recent loss of a loved one. By enlisting the assistance of a seasoned probate attorney, you can ensure that you avoid unnecessary expenditure of time and money while claiming your rightful inheritance.
Why Choose Attorney Brown for Your Estate and Probate Needs?
With nearly two decades of experience, Principal Attorney Christy K. Brown is a No-Nonsense, Forward-Thinking, and Result-Oriented probate, estate planning, and business lawyer, and she’s committed to handling each of her clients’ concerns equally, creatively, relentlessly and in a personal way from the first meeting. Call our office today or schedule your free 15-minute phone consultation to learn more about how we can help you through the probate process.