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What are the Responsibilities of a Probate Attorney?


The aftermath of the demise of an individual can be a complicated affair in terms of the distribution of assets. And that’s when a probate attorney comes into effect.

What are the Responsibilities of a Probate Attorney

A probate attorney is a state-licensed professional who carries out, in the light of the deceased person’s will and the testament, the distribution of assets. He also deals with the outcome of the estate of the decedent. The people that can claim the assets include:

  • Heirs
  • Creditors
  • Beneficiaries

Furthermore, a probate attorney advises and assists the personal representative—also known as an executor— on all the proceedings of the probate process. In cases when the personal representatives are not appointed, a probate attorney may file a petition to get an executor appointed.

On the contrary, a probate attorney could be hired by the beneficiaries when the credibility of the executor is deemed subpar.

A brief outlook on the affairs

The probate attorney instigates appraisal of the estate and the assets. He or she collaborates with the executor to secure the assets and investigate their death-date values. The collected assets could also be non-probate in nature—those that could be passed on to the beneficiaries in the absence of any probate. Such may include:

  • IRA and/or 401(K)
  • Life Insurances
  • Annuities
  • Medical Reimbursements

The attorney then carries out the required documentation in the administration phase. It may include the financial assessment encompassing the decedent. He or she, additionally, takes care of the deadlines, outstanding debts, and notices to the creditors, beneficiaries, and the heirs.

The ownership of the estate is transferred in the presence of the attorney. If it required to be sold, the attorney enacts and also determines the proportions of the finance.

After the administration, the taxes are determined and paid off. Then the attorney files a final petition that exhibits its proof along with the reports of other administrative assessments so that the court could give the order of the distribution of assets.

Moreover, a probate attorney adheres to the laws of the state he or she is employed during the probate. For instance, Dallas Probate Lawyers do the proceedings by taking probate laws of the state of Texas into consideration.

Conflict Management

Conflicts in probate matter constitute the complex situations that carry the potential to bring disputes amongst the beneficiaries of the estate. Before the situation gets out of control and ends up in a heated argument, it is advised to bring a probate attorney to handle the situation.

For instance, if the decedent had children from more than one spouse, the proportion of share becomes a little complex to deal with. Hence, the attorney handles the situation pragmatically by keeping the emotional interference at bay.

Other times, the beneficiaries deem the testament or a will invalid. In such issues, the beneficiaries normally claim:

  • Heirs being underaged to comprehend the will’s complexity at the time it was written
  • A potential fraud
  • A procedural mistake or lack of abidance to the laws

To claim the inauthenticity of the will, they carry out legal proceedings. A probate attorney has the expertise to settle the conflicts in such matters as well.

The Accounting

The term of administration requires thorough financial analyses by the attorney. Even when the executor assesses the assets, he or she requires the assistance of an attorney on financial matters.
The court may require the executor to submit the financial assessments in the form of a report during the probate. It includes (though not limited to):

  • Bank account transactions
  • Outstanding debts
  • Bills submitted
  • Net gains and losses on sales
  • Status of dividends
  • Bonds and stocks depositions

Additionally, an attorney also factors in the taxes owed to the state before getting the approval for the distribution of the assets. These might include any outstanding taxes pertaining to the time before the death of the proprietor.

Sometimes, when financial matters become highly extensive, an accounting firm is sought to deal with accounting. In such cases, a probate attorney from that firm deals with the accountings specifically and generates the final petition.

Creditors claims

The probate attorney also collaborates with the personal representative to clear the debts of the creditors. It is initiated by probing in to know the relevant creditors of the decedent. The personal representative could have access to the mails of the decedent, and also amend the mailing address of the creditor so that the notifications could be directed towards him or her.

Once the creditors are determined, notices to the creditors are published in the local newspaper that informs them about the situation. The creditors have a specific period to respond to it and file a claim to the finances. However, the court allows the personal representative to pay off the debt without any issuance of the creditor’s claim if the debt is found valid.

Furthermore, in more complex cases, the estate is held ineligible, and the remaining assets are insufficient to generate sufficient money to pay out the creditors and file taxes. A probate attorney gets around these challenges and devises plans to manage finances in such cases.

Final word

Hiring a probate attorney can be expensive, but it makes the probate process smooth. Even though some of the steps could appear simple enough to be dealt with without requiring an attorney, it is best avoided as the intricacies can arrive at any point and delay the process.

Not to mention, you could save your cost by hiring a probate attorney that offers limited representation to assist the executor when he or she runs into complications and need limited advice. Lastly, before getting started with the probation, you could even take advantage of the free consultation services offered by some attorneys to get the bigger picture of the process.

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Shirley McGill is a freelance writer, content promotion specialist and social network marketing specialist with 4 year experience. As an entrepreneur, she is sure that viewers have access to very useful and useful tips that he uses to offer his clients social networking solutions. You can see Lisa's work on her site


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