You’ve probably heard about trusts and wills at this point. But in nearly all discussion about trusts and wills there is a legal term that most people don’t actually know what it means, probate.
What is Probate?
Starting at the basics, probate is a legal procedure that settles a person’s affairs after his/her death. It usually encompasses the following:
Disbursement of the property of the individual according to his/her will, following any provisions mentioned in it
Paying or clearing any taxes or debts the individual owes
Carrying-out a property inventory and appraisal of the deceased person
Recognizing and taking a note of the details of the properties of the individual
Proving, in court, that the will of an individual is legal & binding
Executor And/Or Attorney?
Personal Representatives, also known as executors, are people named in a will to take care of the items listed within the will, and if probate is required – they can handle that as well. Though it’s not an absolute requirement, it’s common for executors to hire an attorney to hire an attorney in probate court proceedings.
If probate court proceedings are required, an estate lawyer can provide extra legal support for an executor by answering legal issues as well as researching, analyzing, and preparing other legal documents, including an estate tax return.
One distinction to remember here is that a person might be an executor once or twice in their life, while an attorney provides probate services on a regular basis. When handling someone’s life of affairs, this might be a good time to rely on the support of a person who can tread delicately, but still effectively over the legal speed-bumps of probate.
How About a Probate Attorney’s Fee?
In most cases a probate attorney will be paid out of the estate of the deceased at an hourly rate determined but he attorney. Or by a lump sum rate. Some states allow for attorneys to charge a percentage the estate as an attorney’s fee for managing probate. If you’re looking for support through probate, it makes sense to shop around a bit.
However, it is possible to avoid the process of probate altogether.
The best way to avoid the headache, and having to pay attorneys fees, at probate – is to sit down and create a great estate plan. An estate plan can cover living trusts, powers of attorney, and much more. But it’s only helpful if you work with someone today to set-up.
Here’s a Short Video Describing the Difference Between a DIY Estate Plan and one that Will Help You or Your Family in the Event That Your Plan is Needed