There is a plethora of state laws created to keep senior citizens safe, especially as their physical and mental health start to decline. However, the stress linked with legal matters can be too much for these people. As such, the need to have qualified probate attorneys is imperative.
A probate attorney is a licensed practicing lawyer who deals with settling a decedent‘s estate. They go by other names, such as estate attorneys or elder law lawyers. The work nature of these lawyers varies as it depends on the value of the asset in question.
In essence, they collaborate with an executor of the will and the recipients of the will. But, these are not the only legal duties carried out by these attorneys. Let’s have a little insight into their job description.
The Legal Duties of Probate Attorneys
There are specific tasks that are peculiar to probate attorneys, some of which are:
- Evaluation of the deceased’s real property
- Acquiring the profits from the decedent’s life insurance policies
- Tackling issues with tax
- Using the deceased’s name to transfer assets to the proper beneficiaries
- Provides security for the assets
- Oversees the account of the estate
- Handles all the paperwork the probate court will need in the case of a trial
- Makes the concluding payment of the assets after clearing the tax and bills on these properties
- Act as a legal advocate and counselor to clarify legal terms and will in testament
- Stand as a legal representative in court in case there is a legal battle for the estate
With the above list, you can see how relevant these lawyers are. So, if you need help finding these attorneys, ask or look online. With the aid of the internet, you can find some of these lawyers nearby. For example, if you live in Orange County, you can Google probate attorneys in Orange County.
But, all these activities come to play only in the demise of the owner of the assets. Before the death of the owner of the assets, they must engage in estate planning. This process is to make the transfer of these properties easy and reduce the workload of the probate lawyers in the future.
What Is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is a procedure where elderly individuals plan to transfer their estate to beneficiaries after their demise. This plan uses critical information like insurance policies, bank accounts, etc.
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To carry out proper estate planning, one should check the estate or assets appropriately. This asset is the summation of all the properties you have, which may include;
- Retirement funds
Documentation of Estate Planning Procedures
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After the evaluation of assets, documentation of these properties comes next. Some of these vital documents are;
A will is a legal document that manages the dispersal of one’s properties after death. But, if the beneficiaries of these assets are minor children, the will should state the guardians of these properties till these youngsters come of age.
This document is very vital as it communicates the wishes of the deceased after their demise. The document could also contain specific instructions about their funeral, which could either be cremation or embalming. To make this procedure easy, contact a legal practitioner such as a lawyer specializing in wills for help.
Note a will need not be in a written format alone. A will can also be in a video or voice recording format. But, you must ensure that the gadgets used are safe from malware that could affect the recording. You don’t need anything tampering with your family’s future and also make duplicate copies. These copies are a backup plan if the original gets misplaced.
Trust is another legal essential for estate planning. A trust is a legal agreement in which you hand over the financial proceeds of your assets to a third party. Nonetheless, you still have legal rights and access to these assets. To do this, you need to contact a financial agency or another individual called a trustee.
Sometimes, different individuals could carry out diverse duties in a trust. But in other instances, one individual can handle the three major roles. Contact a trust lawyer if you are divided about how to carry out this process.
Other examples of legal documents necessary for estate planning are:
- Durable Power of Attorney (DOA)
- Advance Healthcare Directive (AHCD)
- Financial Power of Attorney (FOA)
Note that you don’t need to contact so many lawyers to help in the estate planning process. Instead, you can use the services of a special needs planning lawyer. Plus, it saves you from paying too many legal advisers hefty fees.
Top 2 Probate Attorneys for Elder Property Settlements
There are two significant types of probate litigators in the property settlement field. They are transactional lawyers and probate lawyers.
1. Transactional Attorney
Estate-related transactional attorneys are legal practitioners who handle all the duties necessary for an estate settlement. They also handle all the paperwork and filing of documents. An example of some of this paperwork includes tendering the last will of the deceased.
This step is vital as the enforcement of the will is pivotal after the death of the will creator. A transactional attorney, as a matter of procedure, confirms the death of the executor. They do this with the death certificate. After this confirmation, these advocates can now proceed with various legal activities. Some of these are:
- Verification of the estate or properties
- Accessing the profits of insurance such as life, car, or house insurance
- Handling tax-related issues
- Resolving debts where necessary
- Secures the decadent’s account
2. Probate Attorney
Probate attorneys are different from the above-mentioned transactional lawyers. These litigators come to play when differences of opinion arise in executing the will. Severe disputes and collisions occur when family members are unsatisfied with the estate distribution. This dissatisfaction could be caused due to various reasons such as the need to have more, jealousy, etc. Other times a family member might feel that the will has been altered.
This family feud might become a massive battle if not handled appropriately. Here, these attorneys can act as legal counselors to settle the conflict out of court. This procedure could be through mediation, arbitration, or negotiation. All these techniques fall under Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR).
But, if the family members refuse to resolve things peacefully, there can battle it out in court. These probate lawyers can stand as their legal representatives in court.
There are two top probate litigators – transactional and probate litigators. Transactional litigators are responsible for tendering the final will and death certificate. They also handle the documents and paperwork about an elder’s property settlement.
Meanwhile, probate lawyers work to resolve family conflicts. For example, they handle disputes that may arise in the distribution of assets. They can also stand as legal representatives in court if the beneficiaries decide to contest the will.
It is important that the elderly who possesses an estate or a large amount of wealth that would need distribution amongst his heirs should engage in estate planning before his demise. A loss of a family member is a terrible pain to bear and overcome. Having to deal with disputes along with this might be demoralizing for anyone. So it is advisable to use a probate attorney and a transactional attorney to help you get through this tough phase.