An average person rarely needs to hire a lawyer. However, a few life situations warrant the presence of legal counsel. One of them is probate. Even if there is no will, probate is needed to pay the person’s last bills and distribute the estate.
A probate lawyer provides consultations and guidance to the will’s executor or beneficiaries of an estate. Since many nuances come with this process, legal counsel is vital to proper distribution.
What is Probate Lawyer?
A probate lawyer is a licensed attorney who assists executors and estate beneficiaries to settle the affair of a person who passed away. A probate may be avoided in some cases. For example, if the decedent puts all assets in a trust or if no property exists.
While it’s possible to avoid probate, it’s still necessary in the majority of cases. Dealing with probate without a lawyer is virtually impossible.
What Does Probate Lawyer Do?
When you hire a probate lawyer, what can you expect them to do?
- Collect proceeds from life insurance policies
- Arrange appraisal of the property
- Assist with payments of bills and covering debts
- Identify and secure estate assets
- Help collect, arrange, and file documents required during probate
- Manage estate checking account
- Distribute assets to beneficiaries
- And more
Can I Avoid Hiring Probate Lawyer?
To appear in court, a person has to be a licensed attorney. A paralegal can’t represent a person in probate in court. Even though the presence of an attorney during the probate process isn’t legally required, it’s highly recommended.
An average person doesn’t know how to handle probate. Without the right counsel, the process is likely to become time-consuming. Knowing all the probate nuances allows the lawyer to avoid mistakes.
Many errors can be made along the way unless a person knows the law. If you make numerous mistakes with the petition, the court could dismiss them, forcing you to start over.
A probate lawyer doesn’t just know the ins and outs of the process, this specialist can keep you from making mistakes while ensuring the desired outcome.
How Much Does Probate Lawyer Cost?
Depending on the state you live in, the cost of probate lawyer services may vary. Some are paid hourly while others charge a flat fee or a percentage of the estate value. A lawyer may give you the option of choosing the payment method.
According to Nolo.com, depending on your location, the hourly rates may vary from $150 to $250. Flat rates depend on the firm you hire and the volume of work to be done. You need to read the contract carefully to avoid extra fees.
The percentage of estate value may seem to be an easy way to pay a lawyer. However, it can be an expensive one. Such a payment option is allowed in just a few states, including California, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Montana, and Wyoming.
If you live in one of these states, negotiate the payment method with the firm to ensure the best outcome for both of you.
Do I Need Probate Lawyer?
Hiring a probate lawyer isn’t a mandatory action during probate, but a highly recommended one. Dealing with probate without a lawyer can be time-consuming and confusing. Legal counsel can help you avoid mistakes and achieve the best outcome.