Why Hire a Probate Lawyer?

Why hire a probate lawyer?

Module 5

It is common to hesitate before incurring expenses involved in administering the estate of a loved one. Knowing what you need to spend money on what you don’t can be confusing the first time in probate. Lawyers can assist in a number of different ways in probate court. In most instances, lawyers do not require upfront expenses in administering an estate. Here are a number of reasons why you may wish to hire an attorney.

  1. Reduce Stress

The death of a loved one is a stressful time for you and your family. Lawyers can reduce this stress.They can provide you information on what you need in probate court. Listening to easy-to-follow instructions is simpler than guessing where to go without help. In the probate space, an attorney makes it easier by telling you where to go, what things mean, and how to solve problems.

  1. Focus on Your Family

We care more about our families than we care about our material possessions. This is even more true when we discuss the material possessions of others. When a loved one passes away, you want to focus on your relationships with your family members. Sometimes this means being the person whom others rely upon for emotional support. Sometimes, you are the one seeking emotional support. Regardless, hiring an attorney frees you up to take care of what really matters during these times.

  1. You have your own job and career.

We all have talents when it comes to accomplishing things. Whether it involves skills that come naturally or are honed, we gravitate to doing what we are good at. If an estate names you as executor, you may not know where to begin. Also, you may not have time to figure it out. Don’t let this important position interfere with your own career and life. Instead, let a lawyer guide you through the process so you can devote your time to what you are best at: your own career.

  1. Ease and Organization

A lawyer that regularly practices in probate court knows how to properly organize inventories, accounting sheets, and other probate court forms. Because of this, they speed up the process and reduce the confusion associated with not knowing what goes where. Even if you’re not the best record keeper, a probate lawyer will help you with figuring out the best way to preserve information that is needed for the probate process.

  1. Side-Step Family Disputes

Not everyone leaves probate court happy. Wills disinherit family members. Other families may call wills into question. In even less nefarious instances, family members may simply not agree how to handle inherited property where interests are shared. Because of this, a lawyer may be able to resolve disputes diplomatically. He may also clarify the role of an estate administrator for families. This helps you follow what the will states, what Ohio law says, and what is in the best interest of the estate.

  1. When Assets are Complicated

Not all assets are created equal. When someone passes away, property does not magically turn into a check for the family. This is particularly true if the estate involves business interests. Oftentimes, businesses must abide by previously existing agreements with business partners and other individuals. This means, that others may first have an option to purchase a business owned by the deceased. Other times, others must appraise and value business. In some cases, estates must sell business subject to financing. Lawyers can help navigate the path to lead to maximum value for the beneficiaries.

  1. When Time Is Important

If an estate does not correctly file paperwork, it cannot close. Since this is the case, probate lawyers knowing how to fill out estate documents provide significant value to estates. Sometimes, probate lawyers expedite the process by evaluating whether an estate qualifies for summary relief from administration. Other times, they assist in speeding up the process by simply filing what is needed and ignore what is not.

  1. Your name is on the line.

If an estate names you fiduciary, you have a duty to act in the best interest of the estate. In this regard, you must act competently, expeditiously, and properly in performing this duty. If you fail in your duty, you may personally be liable for any damages you cause. With this in mind, having an attorney can ensure that you act properly. If you wouldn’t consider representing yourself in a lawsuit, you also should not consider going at it alone in probate court when administering an estate.

  1. If you do not know succession laws . . .

States write probate laws in a dense and difficult to understand language. If you do not know what these laws mean, and more importantly what courts have interpreted these laws to mean, you may be distributing property incorrectly. Sometimes will language is straightforward. Other times, you need additional layers of knowledge if someone passes away without a will or a surviving spouse elects to take against a will. A lawyer helps protect you. He will help you ensure that you protect the legal rights afforded to everyone under Ohio law.

  1. If you don’t understand the paperwork . . .

Estates must have someone that knows how to fill out paperwork properly. We don’t expect you to know exactly what the paperwork means. When you don’t know what it means, it is important to have someone else guiding you with instructions in plain English. A lawyer versed in probate court knows what forms you do need to fill out.

  1. When the family transfers real estate . . .

In most instances, estates can sell property without a lawyer. However, things become complicated when non-spouse family members intend to hold on to the property. In these instances, a lawyer can prepare and ensure that the deed conveyed to the family members is accurate. He will also review the warrantees entitled to them under Ohio law. This could affect how the family sells the property in the future. A correctly drafted deed limits the possibility of problems down the road.

  1. Protection from Insolvent Estates

Sometimes people leave behind more debts than assets. In these situations, a lawyer can limit the problems associated with the insolvent estate. He does this by ensuring that family members do not incur unnecessary expenses. This ranges from ensuring that the funeral is paid for properly to resolving potential disputes with creditors. Moreover, a lawyer examines estates to ensure they are administered and closed in the least expensive way possible when it comes to administrative fees.

  1. Guiding You Through Probate

Probate court can seem like a maze the first time you walk inside it. In addition to the courtrooms, you will see the various departments and places to check in, file paperwork, and pay fees. A lawyer not only guides you through the paperwork process, but also leads you where you need to go. In many instances, a lawyer shows up and resolves many of the bureaucratic steps before a hearing on the matters.

  1. If you don’t know how to proceed in a court hearing.

Documents may not intimidate you, but courtrooms might. If the court requires a hearing, you may want to have help from an attorney. A lawyer can assist with telling you how to act and conduct yourself. You may have questions about how to formally address the magistrate, opposing parties, or even people whom you’ve known your entire life.

Probate law involves the intersection of local rules, the Ohio Revised Code, case law, and the rules of evidence and civil procedure. Only when you know how these sources mesh together will you know what needs to be done and how it needs to be presented. Lawyers versed in this field provide you this guidance.

  1. When you want help . . .

While courts can offer you some good faith guidance, they cannot offer you legal advice. Other family members may have different positions that your role as administrator. Obtaining advice from them may pose a conflict of interest. Furthermore, only licensed attorneys in the state of Ohio provide you genuine legal advice. Because of this, if you are seeking help, a probate lawyer is your best and only option.

  1. If there are tax issues . . .

Even after someone passes away, their estate must file an income tax return. An administrator may file the return. Sometiems the estate may hire a CPA. Other times, the estate may hire a lawyer for more complicated tax issues. For example, if the estate a large enough that an estate tax return must be filed or tax paid, it will be helpful to have a lawyer around to explain all the particularities of the tax code. Likewise, the deceased owes backed taxes, a lawyer assists resolving any dispute that may exist with the Internal Revenue Service. If filing your own taxes gives you stress, hiring a lawyer may be the right move when you are in charge of resolving the tax issues of others.

  1. When the Will isn’t clear . . .

Wills aren’t perfect. Sometimes, a will isn’t clear about who will get what property. Other times, a will downright contradicts itself. A lawyer will assist the administrator in probating the will. This will ensure that the executor receives the proper guidance necessary. Lawyers will instruct you what to do when a problem arises. Lawyers also assist in dealing with imperfect documents. Even when a will seemingly contradicts itself, there are some sections that may take precedence over others. Having a lawyer that can decipher this will help in the process.

  1. When fighting creditors . . .

Every debt is different.  Creditors come out of the woodwork claiming old debts are owed to them. In some instances, these debts are justified and payments should be made to them. However, some creditors own expired debts. They may have already sold debts. Sometimes, parties resolve debts that reappear. If you believe that an estate has an improper creditor claim, a lawyer assists in disputing the debt or resolving the debt in another manner.