For any executive, going through the probate process is quite time-consuming and complicated. If you are the in-charge of fulfilling the last wish of the deceased, you may be looking for ways to make sure that the assets are calculated, liabilities are settled, and the rest of the property is distributed among the beneficiaries. The entire process can take a few months or a few years. Therefore, it is better that you hire the services of a probate lawyer. Given below are some of the questions that you may ask before you hire one.
1. What’s the Size of the Estate?
In each state, the definition of the size of the estate is different. For example, if the value of the real estate is not more than $150,000, simple probate is needed. The good thing about simple probate is that it can save a lot of time and money.
2. Does the Estate have Enough Money to Cover the Debts of the Deceased?
In an ideal situation, the will has plenty of asset resources in order to offset the debts of the estate. However, this is not the case with every estate. After taking inventory of assets and other property, there may not be enough money left to cover the taxes and debts of the descendant. Therefore, you may want to get expert advice before you make payment to other creditors.
According to state laws, creditors are paid on a priority basis which is why you may want to get help from a probate attorney. They know much better how to distribute the money in an efficient way.
3. Is it Possible to Transfer the Assets of the Deceased Outside of Probate?
Based on the planning of the descendant, it may be possible to distribute the assets without taking the matter to the probate court. Therefore, you may want to find out if the assets are held in joint ownership or trust. Sometimes, the assets are held in a payable upon death ownership.
Besides, probate is not needed when assets left by the descendant are going to be distributed based on the terms of a contract, such as a life insurance policy or retirement account. In the case of an insurance policy, the assets are transferred to the mentioned beneficiary in case of the death of the insurance policyholder.
If the assets of the descendant fall into this category, there is no need to hire the services of a probate lawyer.
4. What are the Family Dynamics?
The probate process may involve stress and uncertainty due to the family dynamics of the descendant. In some cases, a family member may raise legal objections making the probate process complicated. For example, if a family member comes forward and challenges the will, you will have to take the matter to the court of law in order to resolve the issue. In this case, you will have to hire the services of a professional probate lawyer.
Long story short, you may want to ask yourself these 4 questions if you are trying to find out if you should hire the services of a probate lawyer. The answers to these questions will help you make this decision confidently.