At one point or another, we all hear about probate lawyers. If you’re like most people you don’t pay attention until one day you’re faced with the inevitable – you need one. So what specifically is a probate lawyer?

A probate lawyer manages the filing of a deceased individual's Will. Sometimes there are disputes that arise from the disposition of property. Basically, a probate lawyer is an estate or a trust lawyer.

Far too many people do not think about finding a probate lawyer until someone has died. When this happens, then there is a sense of urgency to hire a lawyer, therefore not allowing a lot of time to shop around for the lawyer who will best represent your interests.

This area of law can be simple and straightforward or it can be confusing and convoluted. All this depends on the degree of estate planning by the deceased while they were living.

Before going any further, this is a good time to stress the importance of having a Will and making sure you have completed as much as possible to ensure that your family members are not going to experience any added emotional distress after you die. It isn’t something we like to do, but in reality it truly can be the best thing you can do for your loved ones while you are alive.

Simply defined, probate is the process that occurs after an individual dies that involves distributing assets and taking care of any debts. This is a process that happens regardless of whether or not there is a Will.

Probate attorneys can help you create a Will so that your family members can have some security in the event of your death. They also can assist with trust planning (including living trusts) as well as powers of attorney and health care powers of attorney. In addition, a probate lawyer can help a person with asset protection and, of course, the preparing and filing of all documents required by a probate court.

There are other matters that probate lawyers deal, with such as income tax issues, requesting court permission for various actions as required, and retitling the decedent’s assets to the beneficiaries.

Some people question if they really need a lawyer to do all this and there is no for sure answer because ultimately the choice is up each individual. Legally a lawyer does not have to write a Will or handle an estate. This can be done on your own but it is not advisable because failure to execute administer the estate properly may end up in a personal liability lawsuit after all is done. Challenges to a Will can and do occur on a regular basis and when this happens it becomes necessary to have a good lawyer who is fully equipped to handle the case.

Making sure that everything is taken care of before passing on is crucial. An experienced lawyer will know everything that needs to be done in order to probate an estate in a timely manner.

Remember, having a Will may ultimately be the best gift you can give to your loved ones. Give us a call at 253.858.5434 to see how we can be of service to you, your family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers.