5 min read

What Does a Probate Attorney Actually Do?

Wondering what you're paying all those legal fees for? Learn how a probate attorney navigates the probate process, handles estate planning, and helps to safeguard your assets after death.

Probate attorney

Probate Attorneys

The high fees of Probate attorneys are widely acknowledged. Costs are high, complexity higher and uncertainty about what they actually do…well that’s higher still.

When it comes to hiring a lawyer to plan or administer an estate, there's typically no ambiguity or doubt over the hefty cost involved. However, a clear understanding of what a probate attorney actually does and how the process all works is less well established.

Before making a decision on whether or not to hire a probate attorney, it’s worth knowing what your hard earned cash is actually going towards- including what these people do and how they make your life and estate administration easier.

In this blog post, we aim to demystify the ins and outs of probate lawyers. Covering what they do, why you might need one and how much the benefits could cost you.

First, what is probate and how does it work?

Let's not get buried in complicated legal jargon. Put simply, probate is the legal process which approves the validity of the Will. Instructions in the Will are then given the green light to be carried out, including the distribution of assets. This also gives the executor power to settle debts and manage financial accounts.

Without probate, none of this can occur.

It’s why the probate process is so important, and why delays can create stress and upset for all involved. As a complicated legal process, a probate attorney can navigate the court and paperwork proceedings in order to make the process more efficient.

Understanding the probate process

The probate process can be intricate and time-consuming. It typically involves the following steps:

  1. Filing with the Court: The probate process begins with the submission of the Will and necessary documentation to the supreme court.

  2. Executor Appointment: The court appoints an executor, usually nominated in the Will, to administer the estate. The probate attorney can assist in fulfilling the executor's duties effectively, especially if any complex legal issues arise. In some cases, the appointed executor might be a probate attorney.

  3. Asset Inventory and Valuation: The executor, with the guidance of a probate attorney, creates an inventory of the deceased's assets, including real estate, investments, and personal property. These assets are then evaluated to determine their value.

  4. Debt Settlement: The estate's debts, including taxes and outstanding liabilities, are paid off using the assets

  5. Asset Distribution: Once all debts are settled, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries according to the instructions in the Will or applicable state laws.

The value of a probate attorney

Probate attorneys go through years of legal school to gain the insight and expertise on legal processes like probate. With this in mind, it’s no wonder your everyday family guy might struggle to face the paperwork and court processes alone.

Hiring a probate attorney can benefit the direct and wider family, as well as the executor appointed by the deceased. And, whilst representing an upfront cost, having this legal expertise on board can save money and stress further down the line if probate is drawn out.

So what value does a probate attorney actually bring to the table?

  1. Expertise in Probate Process: Probate attorneys possess extensive knowledge of the legal requirements and procedures involved in probate. They can ensure the Will and all paperwork compliance with relevant laws in your state, and navigate these complexities at an already taxing time.

  2. Guidance and Support: A probate attorney provides guidance throughout the process. Whether it's answering questions, providing advice, or handling legal formalities- they can shine a light on an otherwise overwhelming process.

  3. Reducing Stress: Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be emotionally draining. On top of legal responsibilities, paperwork and complicated court proceedings- things can get all too much, A probate attorney eases the burden of estate administration by handling the legal complexities and leaving you time to focus on supporting yourself and your family through grief.

  4. Mitigating Conflicts: When emotions are high and stakes higher still, it's all too common for family disputes to arise. With the help of a skilled probate attorney, these can be managed without the need to escalate in court or break down relationship ties.

Wider estate planning

Having an attorney on board whilst writing your Will can also help smooth the probate process when it comes along. In ensuring your Will is legally valid, the time, stress and cost of court approval is likely to be lower for everyone involved. Additionally, they can also provide tailored advice on how to increase tax efficiency of your assets, and protect your family business and estate.

How Safewill can help

When it comes to writing your Will- Safewill offers the security and peace of mind of an estate attorney, without the crazy costs. We provide an easy to use online platform, which allows you to write your Will before it’s checked over by our specialised legal team. It’s easy, it’s affordable and it’s expert legal advice working around you.

Reach out to our team today for tailored advice on probate or estate planning, on 1800 10 33 10 or via live chat now.

Last updated 26th May 2023
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Hannah Comiskey