When Would You Need to Hire a Probate Lawyer?

Posted on: 29 October 2015

A probate lawyer is someone who handles the last will and testament of a person, and works as an estate or trust lawyer after that person has died. In most areas you are not legally required to hire a probate lawyer to draw up a will and have it considered legal and valid after your death, and in some cases you may not need a probate lawyer to handle an estate after a person has passed away. 

However, there may be times when it's best to use the services of such a professional, as you may need expert advice when preparing your will and the services of such an expert after someone is gone. Note the following considerations to keep in mind.

1. Is there a business involved?

If an estate only involves cash money, household goods, a family home, and other such common items, chances are these things can easily be divided among surviving family members and friends without much discord. However, when there is a business involved, there may be business partners that have an interest or ownership in that business and they may have certain rights to it. The same is true with owning commercial property or other such assets. Have a probate lawyer ensure that these interests are properly addressed in your will and such interests are protected after your passing.

2. A probate lawyer can help you to avoid probate court

One reason to consider the services of a probate lawyer when writing a will is that there are ways to avoid probate court after your passing. For example, if there is joint ownership in certain property or to certain bank accounts, these things may be able to bypass probate court altogether. Rather than simply leaving certain things to survivors in your will, you might discuss with a probate lawyer your options for giving them joint ownership now, or exploring other options that will keep those assets out of probate court altogether.

3. The estate may owe large taxes

Every area is different when it comes to tax laws that may affect your estate after you're gone, and here too a probate lawyer can assist. He or she can advise you on the best ways to avoid estate or inheritance taxes, if they're applicable in your area. You might need to spend down your assets, sign over ownership of certain property to someone now while you're still living, and so on. Whatever means are available for you in order to avoid large tax bills against your estate, a probate lawyer can assist.