What does a Probate Attorney do?
Whenever a human being dies, two crucial matters regarding the individual’s estate become realized in the form of payment of the deceased’s outstanding debts and transfer of the individual’s property to those entitled (labeled in the deceased’s will/family) to it. Probate refers to the formal court proceedings to settle these issues postmortem.
Probate cases are always a matter of state law; the legal procedures will vary from state to state and it’s rare that a state implements straightforward probate laws.
A probate attorney will provide the following services:
• Probate attorneys advance health care directives that ultimately provide instructions on how you want your health care managed if you become incapacitated or are unable to speak for yourself for any reason.
• Probate attorneys affirm the functions attached to the power of attorney; Probate attorneys will appoint someone (trustee or a family member) to manage your property and take care of your finances if your become incapacitated.
• Probate attorneys provide you with wills and trusts services; the legal professional will help transfer your estate/property to selected beneficiaries after you pass
• Probate attorneys offer medical eligibility planning services
• Probate attorneys help with trusts; they provide for the care of disabled persons or minors, while minimizing tax obligations and protecting your estate against creditors
• A Probate attorney implements strategies to avoid lengthy court battles; these legal professionals will oversee the transfer of your property ion the most efficient and beneficial, with regards to taxation, way possible
Probate attorneys are legal professionals who are adept at managing estates for those who are incapable; these professionals are experienced with probate and knowledgeable regarding tax, property and estate law in their particular states.
Probate attorneys also provide an advance directive for health care—this legal document contains detailed instructions concerning how you want your health care to be managed if you become incapacitated or horribly ill. States permit differing of advance directives, so as a generic example we will use the following:
• Living Will: With the help of a Probate attorney you may indicate whether you want to partake in life prolonging procedures to be withheld if you develop a terminal illness or are on life support.
• Health Care Power of Attorney: Probate attorneys may authorize a third party to engage and subsequently provide health care decisions on your behalf if you become so sick that you are unable to make these decisions yourself.
• Mental health Treatment Preference Declaration: With the help of Probate attorneys you may indicate whether you want to receive psychotropic medicines or electro-convulsive treatments or be admitted to a mental health facility for up to a certain period of time if you are stricken with a psychological illness that impedes you from making said decisions. Under this structure, you may also authorize a party to make decisions for you if you are unable to make them.
Note: the below laws and provisions will vary based on state.
A Probate attorney may also construct a valid will on your behalf if you are 18 years or older and of sound memory and mind (these probate powers will differentiate based on state law). To be deemed legal and binding, the will must be in writing and signed in front of at least two witnesses who are not beneficiaries of the will. If you pass away without forming a will, your assets and estate will be divided among members of your immediate family. If you are married and have at least one child, half of your estate will be given to your spouse and half to your children (the estate will be shared equally among the children if you have more than one child). If you are a spouse and no children, your estate will be transferred to your spouse. If you have no children and no spouse, your estate will be divided equally among your siblings and parents. If you have no parents, siblings or spouse, your estate will be passed to any descendants of your grandparents.
If you do not establish a will, the state may acknowledge the following alternatives to a will:
• Gifting cash or other assets before your pass
• Trusts or life insurance policies
• Payable on Death accounts or Transfer on death
• Individual retirement accounts and retirement plans
• Revocable living trusts, which will give your assets to a trustee for management before you die
• Probate law allows individuals to hold property by joint tenancy with the right of survivorship. In this formation, assets will transfer automatically to the join tenant at the time of death
How do I Search for a Probate Attorney?
When searching for Probate attorneys, you should utilize all resources, including the Internet, (peer review services, forums etc.) your state’s bar association and referrals or opinions procured from your family and friends.
When searching for Probate Attorneys you should utilize the following methods:
1. To find a suitable Probate attorney, you must conduct an Internet search. Type in the “Probate attorneys” into a search engine and take note of all the professionals near your residence. The search engine should list all Probate attorneys in your area, along with their contact information.
2. Once you have a compiled a list of prospective probate attorneys in your area, you should further your search by pertinent information, including referrals, case histories and articles written by the respective probate attorneys. These resources will further illuminate respective probate attorney’s effectiveness, and in general, their reputation. To find this information, search the Probate attorney’s name and key phrases, such as: “reviews” or “testimonials.”
3. After observing this information, you should visit each Probate attorney’s website to view the professional’s biographical information. These profiles will disclose the Probate attorney’s experience and educational background.
4. Narrow your list of prospective probate attorneys down to a select few. Contact each of these individuals via telephone or email. During this correspondence you should ask the probate attorney generic questions relating to his/her practice. It is important to match a probate attorney, and his/her specific skill set, to the issues that surround your case. Is the probate attorney a specialist with wills or is the individual more adept at dealing with issues pertaining to medical care? You must have these questions answered to match a specialized probate attorney with your specific case. The majority of probate attorneys will be more than happy to discuss your case—they see you as a potential client and will more than accommodating to secure your business.
5. After you have contacted your top choices you must decide which probate attorneys you will consult with. These preliminary meetings—which will cost you—are the foundation of your choice. During the consultation you must take note of the probate attorney’s mannerisms, his/her personality and everything connected to his/her business. Choose the individual whom you feel most comfortable with.
Probate Attorneys and their Fees:
The fees associated with Probate attorneys fluctuate based on the firm or individual’s preference, the complexity of your case and most importantly, your location. In general, a Probate attorney will operate under one of the following schedules:
Flat Fees: Under this arrangement, the Probate attorney will charge a flat, lump-sum fee.
Hourly Rate: The probate attorney will charge per hour and will request a total fee based on his/her total hours worked on your case.
Retainer Fees: Probate attorneys operating under this arrangement will require a set fee paid prior to services rendered. The schedule, in essence, serves as a down payment against which future costs are billed. The retainer fee is placed in a separate account and the costs of service is subtracted from the account as they accrue.
When someone dies and has a will, it has to go through probate court. An probate attorney is the attorney that someone needs to see if a loved one dies so that they can make sure that everything runs smoothly through the probate court. A probate attorney will know how the probate court works in the state in which they are licensed. Probate attorneys are those who deal with wills as well as those who die without a will in which there are assets but are not designated to anyone in particular. Those who want to form a will can seek out an estate and probate attorney to help them. The probate attorneys can also draw up a will for a person as well. The probate attorney will then go through probate court to make sure that all goes well with the will.
Probate attorneys deal with the probate court system. Many times, an estate and probate attorney can give advice when someone dies intestate, which means without a will. The probate attorneys will be able to help in these matters as well as the estate will still enter the probate court. Probate attorneys know the laws in the state where they practice. You will need to choose probate attorneys who handle probate in the county in which the deceased died as well. An estate and probate attorney will often take a share of the proceeds of the estate. In some cases, the probate attorney will work on a fee basis. Some probate attorneys will charge a flat fee for going through probate court.