Probate lawyers, also known as estate or trust lawyers, are state-licensed attorneys who advise personal representatives–executors–and beneficiaries of an estate on how to settle the final affairs of a deceased family member. Managing the probate process, probate lawyers will walk families through estate planning, the drafting of wills and trusts, and advise them on powers of attorney. The lawyers themselves can even act as an executor if requested by the client. Essentially, a probate lawyer assists the surviving family members to settle the debts and distribute the assets of their deceased loved one during these difficult times.
The Responsibilities of a Probate Lawyer
Although the process will go much smoother with the presence of a will, probate lawyers can still help with the final affairs. With a will, the lawyers will review it to ensure that it wasn’t signed under duress or in an altered state of mind. This is an especially important task if the client suffered from any form of dementia or had known stressed relationships in their family. In addition to reviewing the will for accuracy and no foul play, a probate lawyer will also be responsible for the following:
- Managing life insurance proceeds
- Getting a property appraisal of the deceased’s home
- Advising the family how to pay and settle the deceased’s debts
- Securing all the deceased’s assets
Additionally, probate lawyers can help their ailing client physically make their last will and testament. Probate lawyers can assist their client in appointing a power of attorney and medical powers of attorney when the time of their passing comes. However, without a will, a probates lawyer’s job gets a little more difficult, but not impossible. Without a will, one’s property and assets are distributed in accordance to intestacy laws of the state. For example, in many states, intestacy laws state that surviving spouses will receive all the remaining assets and property. In these instances, probate lawyers are hired to help the designated administrator of estate distribute everything according to state law.
In all, the role of a probate lawyer is to help a grieving family work through the financial aspects of the passing of their loved one. Financial burdens can weigh heavy on the living family and probate lawyers are there to help the process go much smoother.