What does a probate lawyer do?
If your loved one has passed and you are now the executor of their estate, you may be feeling overwhelmed and you may have lots of questions. Do you need to file documents with the probate court? Is it even necessary to go through probate? What other things must be done to settle the estate? How do I handle beneficiaries who disagree or who may challenge the will?
A probate lawyer can help you to navigate these and the many other potential issues that will arise when a loved one passes, but they also can do much more than this. A probate lawyer can also help to prepare for probate ahead of time by preparing a simple will, a complex will, or a comprehensive estate plan that protects your assets for your children and your family’s future.
Below, I’ll answer some questions about what a probate lawyer and estate planner does and how they can help you both in preparation for and during the probate process.
What Does a Probate Lawyer Do?
One thing that your probate lawyer on the Axelrod team can do is help you with probate administration – if you have been named as the executor for a loved one’s estate, where do you begin?
Your probate attorney can help you to:
- Prepare and file any documents that are required by the probate court;
- Identify any debts and taxes that must be paid from the estate;
- Collect life insurance proceeds;
- Identify assets and determine their value;
- Defend against creditor’s claims and collect any debts that are owed to the estate;
- Resolve disputes between the executor or personal representative, beneficiaries, or trustees; and
- Make final disbursements to the beneficiaries and close the estate.
What does a probate lawyer do? We do everything that is needed to protect your loved one’s assets and make sure they get where they are supposed to go…
Can I Avoid Probate?
In most cases, probate cannot be avoided. In some cases, however, probate can be avoided if it is carefully planned ahead of time – if all the person’s assets are placed in a trust.
If you have questions about whether you can avoid probate and how it can be done, contact your probate attorney at Axelrod and Associates and we will do everything possible to help you accomplish your goals.
In some cases, litigation may be unavoidable after a person’s death. When there is no will or estate plan, beneficiaries may disagree, file claims against the estate, or sue for the money or property to which they think they are entitled.
In other cases, lawsuits may be filed even when there is a will – potential beneficiaries may file suit to challenge the validity of the will or to challenge provisions in a will. When this happens, your probate attorney can sue or defend on your behalf to protect your interests.
Although it is ideal for probate to run smoothly, there are situations where a probate attorney must go to war to protect your interests – your probate attorney at Axelrod and Associates has the experience to either 1) probate your loved one’s estate quickly and efficiently or 2) fight to protect your rights and property, depending on the situation.
What is the Difference Between a Probate Lawyer and an Estate Planner?
Probate attorneys are also estate planners, and your probate attorney on the Axelrod team is prepared to help you tailor an effective estate plan that is designed to avoid litigation and to protect your assets for your family and children for generations to come.
We will meet with you, consult with your advisors like accountants and financial planners, and help you to craft a comprehensive estate plan that may include:
- Drafting a simple or complex will that can identify who will receive your property after your death, identify the executor of your estate, and appoint guardians for your children;
- How to protect your assets and ensure that your beneficiaries receive the benefit of their inheritance, including protecting your business assets;
- The use of powers of attorney, including general, limited, and healthcare powers of attorney;
- A business succession plan to keep the family business in the family after your death;
- A guardianship or conservatorship to appoint someone who can make decisions for an incapacitated person; and
- Special needs trusts intended to provide for the financial needs of a disabled person.
If you have just discovered that you are the executor of your parent’s estate and don’t know where to begin, your probate attorney at Axelrod and Associates is here to help. The best time to call your probate and estate planning attorney, though, is now.
If you have any assets and you want to ensure that they pass to your loved ones after your death, you should consult with an estate planning attorney immediately – none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, and you may save your family from hurt feelings, angry confrontations, and unnecessary litigation.
Whether you need a simple will or a complex estate plan that takes into account multiple businesses and properties, or if you need to update your existing estate plan, do it today.
Whether you need a simple will or a complex estate plan, your attorney on the Axelrod team is prepared to help you accomplish your goals. Call your estate planning and probate attorney at Axelrod and Associates today at 843-353-3449 or complete our contact form to set up an initial consultation.