When a person dies, leaving behind properties or estate consisting of bank accounts and other assets as well. In many cases the deceased leave behind debts that can prove to be substantial ones. Once the person has drafted and signed a will, including the terms of the will and the dynamics among all the other beneficiaries. If the will is straightforward then the executor that is mentioned in the will can easily distribute the estate. In case there is no will left behind for the next of kin, or no beneficiaries are mentioned then the process of NSW probate will be required to facilitate the settling of the distribution of the estate or the debts. The probate is also required to transfer the ownership of the property to a mentioned beneficiary. If the property is owned by a decedent it will go to them. Once probate is required, the next process is to hire a probate attorney.
A lawyer will be appointed who deals with the probate and knows how to manage estate taxes and file probate documents correctly, can access all the estate’s assets, acts as a buffer between feuding family members if required. A probate lawyer can help you quickly finish the probate process and brings closure and peace of mind to all the people involved.
Given below are the points to consider while hiring a probate attorney:
- Understanding the roles and responsibilities of a probate attorney.
- Start your attorney search and ask the crucial questions.
- Find out how much you might need to pay and also about the tax deductions.
- Preparing for your meeting with an attorney.
- Getting the closure you are looking for.
Steps involved in hiring an attorney:
- Determine if you need any help in fulfilling the deceased person’s wishes: If a relative close to you has died, you may consider dealing with the person’s debts and assets.
- If you have been mentioned as an executor in a will
- There is a conflict between the family members over the distribution of the assets.
- You need to sell the estate property.
- You are not the executor of the estate or will but you believe that the executor is not managing the job efficiently.
Small estates that have conventional assets such as a vehicle, home, and financial accounts are generally easier to settle. This is especially in situations where the family is in agreement and the decedents are residing in the same state. Things can be complicated if substantial debts, disputes, and high-value assets are involved.
- Understanding what a probate attorney does: A probate attorney focuses on the estate trusts, planning, and wills with the significant differences in their areas of expertise.
- Transactional attorneys: They can handle administrative proceedings such as creditors, heirs, and represent the clients in distributing property and probate court.
- Probate litigators: They can handle disputes and lawsuits involving contested estates.
The estate planning and probate must be the attorney’s primary practice area. The prospective clients must check online testimonials and reviews and also look for any information that is there about an attorney’s professional association membership, this is done before making a decision. Most probate lawyers offer free support or even charge a nominal amount for an initial consultation. The consultations are a good opportunity to ask the questions, discuss the probate attorney’s case history, request referrals to past clients and the NSW probate successes.
- Start your attorney search and ask the essential questions: Establishing the attorney’s credentials is the main goal of any initial consultation. You must determine if the probate is the firm’s first practice area. You must find out if the attorney practices in the probate court and whether they practice in the probate court. It should be checked if the person has managed similar cases in the past. Given below are the set of questions to ask before appointing the attorney for the case:
- Is probate is required to settle the estate?
- How much time will it take for the probate process?
- The possible issues that may arise while settling the estate
- Where to reach out in case of a question, an attorney or a paralegal?
- What kind of fee structure does the firm use?
- Will the probate will be able to help in case of a conflict between the family members of the beneficiaries?
- Find out how much you need to pay for the work provided by them: The general hourly rates must be asked. Some lawyers represent their clients at a flat rate, you should also ask about the part that is covered in the fee structure. The probate attorneys will tell you the base level fee and the gross value as well. In addition to the attorney fees, you will be responsible for court fees, recording fees for the property, and appraisal fees as well.
The attorney fees and the administrative expenses are tax-deductible and thus they are provided for paying debts, distributing funds to heirs, or collecting assets. The estates can also deduct the charitable donations made after death, burial or funeral expenses, outstanding debts, etc. The state-level inheritance may also qualify for federal tax deductions. The cost of appointing an accountant may also be tax-deductible.
- Prepare for the meeting with the attorney: For convenience and efficiency, the clients must be adequately prepared for the meeting. Hence you must be ready with all the questions and documents as well. A lawyer will need the following documents to assess your case efficiently:
- The decedents trust papers or documents.
- The decedents will
- The planning documents of the estate
- Contact information of the beneficiaries
- Records of assets and the debts
- The decedent’s tax returns
- Death certificate
- The property deeds
- Insurance policies
Being the next of kin, you must carefully take care of each of the mentioned steps. Following each of the given stages will ensure a smooth process and quick closure.