If somebody has died and this person named you in his or her estate, you may be looking at a lengthy probate process. One of the most common questions for persons in this position is whether or not they need to hire a probate lawyer.
Strictly speaking, there is no requirement for you to have a probate lawyer. However, depending on the circumstances surrounding the deceased’s estate, a probate lawyer may be useful or become necessary. According to FindLaw, it is a good idea to retain a probate lawyer if there are any disputes between beneficiaries named in the estate, if the assets in the estate are not enough to pay any outstanding debts attached to it or if the estate has complicated tax issues.
What does a probate lawyer do?
The main role of a probate attorney is to give legal advice about how you and other interested parties should administer the deceased person’s estate. This is particularly important if the person in question died “intestate,” or without any sort of final will or testament.
A probate lawyer can help in paying outstanding debts, transferring assets to beneficiaries, resolving any tax issues related to the estate, or collecting any proceeds from outstanding life insurance policies.
How long does probate take?
This depends on a multiplicity of factors surrounding the estate. If there are many beneficiaries or any conflict between beneficiaries, probate is likely to take a very long time. If the estate is big or if there are any taxes or debts that the lawyer must settle prior to disseminating the assets, probate can potentially take years.