While at a recent party with friends and family, I discovered how many people had misconceptions about the probate process and what a probate attorney can do. Many of the people I spoke with had preconceived notions about what would actually happen to their estate after they pass, such as only needing a piece of paper to let anyone know who gets what or the surviving spouse simply inheriting everything.
It is hard to fault anybody that holds these, or similar views of the probate process, because the law governing probate can be very complicated. While nobody wants to think about a loved one’s death, what their last wishes may be, or the entire process that is probate, many of us will be involved with probate at some point.
Regardless of the circumstances that bring you face to face with probate, there are many probate attorneys that are willing to help you so that you do not have to face these problems on your own. Here are five reasons to have a probate attorney.
A Probate Attorney can Draft Your Will
In this day and age, most information can be found by tapping a few keys and searching the internet. While you might be tempted to try and create your own will, it’s a better idea to have a professional draft your Last Will and Testament. This way, the document will have all the necessary requirements set by the Michigan Legislature to act as a will, and to ensure that the document will actually do what you want it to do. By having a probate attorney draft your will, there is a less likely chance that the court will declare the document invalid after you pass.
Additionally, having a properly drafted will can also help reduce and minimize family conflict. Probate shouldn’t have to be a time of conflict between family members, as a loved one passing is already a stressful enough time. A properly drafted will can help reduce the tensions between heirs, and an attorney can help with a smoother process for everyone involved, especially when the will may be less favorable to one heir.
A Probate Attorney can Help You Protect Your Estate
Most people don’t realize that your estate can have legal claims against it. This happens quite frequently, as creditor claims are filed by anyone looking to take advantage of a loved one’s death. A lawyer is able to help protect the estate against such claims, and by hiring a probate attorney, you gain an extra layer of protection to ensure that your loved one’s final wishes are properly carried out.
A probate attorney will also ensure that all debts are properly paid. Being an executor of an estate can be a difficult process, and sometimes struggle with the debt settlement portion of the probate process. By having a probate attorney, the executor can feel comfortable knowing that they have can release any inheritance and not have to worry about any creditor showing up and finding unpaid debts.
Likewise, if you are an executor, having a probate attorney will protect you from claims by the estate. As an executor, you will be tasked with distributing any assets within the estate, and any error could put your personal interests at risk. Having the right probate attorney will allow the executor to make sound decisions and limit the potential lawsuits from a disgruntled heir.
A Probate Attorney Saves Time
There’s no dancing around it; when a loved one dies, nobody wants to have to go through a long and complicated legal process just to settle the estate. It is a necessary evil, though, since all debts must be settled and the assets must be distributed. By having a probate attorney, you do not need to have to go through this process by yourself. A probate attorney will help guide you through the complexities of probate law.
The process itself can be bogged down in details, especially when an estate is being handled by an inexperienced executor. As an executor, you will have many different responsibilities to complete, such as making sure proper documents are filed with the court. Having a probate attorney draft these documents will help an executor avoid any costly mistakes and make sure that the documents are filed in a timely manner to avoid any penalties from the court.
A Simplified Process
An experienced attorney can help to simplify the entire probate process, guiding you through it in a way that reduces stress and anxiety. An attorney can provide as much or as little help as you need. Moreover, that’s true whether you’re an executor, an heir, or a would-be heir who wants to contest the will.
There’s also more to settling an estate and just making sure debts are paid and assets are distributed. There are many aspects that can require specialized skills. Assets may need to be appraised, documents will need to be prepared to show an accurate accounting of any probate activities, and various legal issues may arise during the process. Hiring the right probate attorney can help you to get the necessary help you need to solve any issues that you come across with minimal stress or fuss.
Questions You Have can be Answered
Whether you’re an executor or an heir with an interest in the process, an attorney can help to get your questions answered. The fact is that probate can be a confusing time for everyone involved, and that confusion is compounded by the emotional time that the death of a loved one brings. A good attorney can help to ensure that you understand the process, and know what to expect.
The Probate ProSM practices and provides probate related services in Michigan and Ohio. Our probate attorneys will take the time to draft wills, assure estates are protected, save you time, simplify the process and have any questions you have answered. Review what legal services we can provide and if you’re ready for a professional probate attorney, call us at 1-(877)-YOUR-FIRM.
Written by Patrick O’Halloran