Peabody Law Firm

Understanding What Probate Attorneys Are and How They Can Help

Many people get confused by all the terms used by attorneys. For instance, one might wonder what the difference is between choosing an estate planning attorney in Southlake vs. selecting a lawyer who offers LLC formation in Southlake. Most individuals have heard the term probate attorney but may not know what makes them different from other lawyers.

When someone dies, it’s tragic. However, even then, something needs to be done with the belongings and assets of this person. That’s where a probate attorney in Southlake can offer a huge amount of help. This article will explain what a probate attorney is and what they can do for people.

What Is a Probate Attorney in Southlake?

Probate attorneys, also known as estate lawyers, are tasked with helping clients to serve in the role of executor, personal representative, or administrator of an estate. These attorneys can help as much or as little as the client desires while going through the probate process.

What is the probate process? Good question. It involves paying off any debts of the deceased and making sure the assets from the estate are properly distributed based on state law or the will.

What Differentiates a Probate and Estate Planning Attorney in Southlake?

When choosing between an estate planning or probate attorney in Southlake, there aren’t a huge amount of differences. They both work in estate law. However, there is one major distinction to be aware of:

  • Probate attorneys are tasked with the estate administration process when someone has died. Sometimes they will also act as the administrator or executive for an estate if there is nobody else to fill the role.
  • Estate planning attorneys work with living clients to draft powers of attorney, living trusts, trusts, and wills. They also help families plan for elder care. This work can be used to help clients lower inheritance taxes.

However, there’s another piece of the puzzle to be aware of. In some cases, a probate attorney can also be an estate planning attorney in Southlake. Some lawyers specialize in one of these things, while others do both of them.

What Do Probate Lawyers in Southlake Do?

The truth is that a probate attorney offers a variety of will and trust services in Southlake. The actual tasks that will be done depend on what the administrator or executor requires, whether a will was in place when the person died, how complicated the estate is, and whether there are legal complications from debtors or beneficiaries.

What Happens When a Will Is in Place

If the deceased person had a signed and valid last will and testament created before their death, a probate attorney in Southlake can help guide the administration through various steps of the probate process while following the directions in the will. At this point, the attorney acts as a consultant.

In situations where the will is challenged, a probate attorney can represent someone in probate litigation. Some examples of challenges to a will include a will signed under the bad influence of someone else, a will signed under duress, or cases where a beneficiary feels the will is invalid.

What Occurs When No Will Is Present

Sometimes the decedent will have no written, valid will, which means they have died “intestate.” If this occurs, state laws about inheritance are used to decide who inherits. As an example, a living spouse might receive half or all of the deceased spouse’s property. However, these laws vary depending on location.

Keep in mind that both the estate administrator and probate attorney in Southlake are required to distribute property based on state laws. It doesn’t matter what the deceased said in the past or how much someone needs money; state law is used to determine how assets are distributed.

Probate attorneys may assist a loved one of the deceased with going to court to be named the estate administrator. In other cases, the attorney might be hired after someone has already received the designation of the administrator of the estate.

Before a relative can become the administrator of the estate, they will need to secure renunciations from other relatives of the decedent. This is a legal document that renounces a person’s right to administer the estate. A probate attorney in Southlake can file and secure these statements and then help the administration with the probate process.

When Is a Probate Attorney in Southlake Needed?

In some cases, a probate attorney may not be needed. The court can often be helpful for both administrators and executors. If someone is questioning whether to hire a lawyer, there are several things to consider:

  • Is the person already familiar with how to handle the probate of the estate?
  • Can the estate be distributed without the need for probate?
  • How simple or challenging is the probate process in the state?
  • Are the family members listed in the will close or prone to arguments?
  • Will the amount of money in the estate cover all debts?

If it seems the answers indicate the process is simple, an attorney may not be needed. However, if that changes, one can be hired later in the process.

How a Probate Attorney in Southlake Charges for Services

Just like a business attorney in Southlake, a probate lawyer can charge in several different ways. In most cases, will and trust services in Southlake are charged in one of three ways:

  • As a percentage of the value of the estate
  • As a flat fee
  • As an hourly rate for services rendered.

Prices can vary based on the experience of an attorney, what the rate is in the area, and what legal matters need to be addressed.

Choose a Probate Attorney in Southlake for Help with Will and Trust Services

For people who have never handled probate in the past, a probate attorney in Southlake can assist with the process. This professional can also help with problems that tend to crop up with large estates. Those not sure whether they need help can have a complimentary chat with an experienced probate attorney and choose whether to move forward or not.

No matter a person’s needs with probate, the best probate attorney in Southlake can ensure the process is as seamless and quick as possible.