Probate is the process of proving a will. Many times when a loved one dies, they hadn’t included everything in their will or had no will at all. The probate process takes over, and sometimes it can get complicated enough that it is best to hire a lawyer. Answer these questions to see if you can get through probate without a lawyer. If you answer yes to most questions, then a probate lawyer is not necessarily needed.
· Is your family getting along? If your family is on good terms and nobody is fighting for certain assets, then probate can be relatively painless. The executor can divide assets evenly with no complaints or debates. And the family can grieve without worrying about the financial details.
· Does your state have a simple probate process? Some estates are small enough to bypass probate altogether, according to some state laws. If probate is still needed, many states have a simple probate process that is easy to navigate.
· Are the assets of the estate straightforward? If the deceased’s assets include a home, cars, furniture, and keepsakes, then probate can be simple. Expect things to get more complicated when there are businesses and commercial real estate property to divvy out.
· Will there be extra money in the estate to pay off debts? Including paying off the home and cars, is there enough cash to pay off all of the loans? Be sure not to pay any bills before getting legal advice. State laws require some creditors to be repaid before others.
These are some questions you can ask yourself before hiring a lawyer. If you don’t know the answers, you can meet with a lawyer and ask them these questions before deciding to hire them. This will help you determine if a prospective lawyer knows their stuff while getting some answers to the questions that you may not know yet.
If you are in need of a professional consultation, our team at Miles & Hatcher, LLP, can help. We have broad experience with probate and can help you through this sensitive time. Please call our office and set up a free consultation: (909) 481-4080.