For many estate planning purposes, probate attorneys are the specialists that can help you to avoid court battles and expensive legal fees down the road. However, some people who hire probate attorneys may not be aware that these professionals can also help with litigation issues related to wills and trusts as well.
In fact, it’s important to hire an attorney who specializes in both probate and litigation matters in order to ensure that your estate planning goals are reached and that your interests are defended properly when it comes time to defend your estate plan against challenges.
What Is Probate?
First, let’s take a quick look at what probate is. When someone dies, that person’s property gets passed on to whomever he or she has listed in his or her will. But if there is no will—or if there are legal challenges that come up in regards to who inherits what—probate attorneys are called in to help sort it all out. As with most areas of law, probate and estate planning often overlap with other types of litigation.
Working with Executors
Typically, there are four executors in a probate case, two appointed by each spouse. If you’re an executor, you have several important tasks ahead of you: You need to decide who will be responsible for paying off your late relative’s estate debts; you must determine what assets will be distributed to heirs; and you may need to litigate any claims against your deceased family member.
Dealing with Family Conflicts
When you handle a probate case, you don’t just have to take care of your client—you also have to help her deal with family members. Family disputes are common in estates that go through probate and can lead to costly legal battles that do nothing but hurt everybody involved.
While you may not be able to prevent these conflicts from happening, being an expert in both probate and litigation law will give you more tools at your disposal when dealing with feuding relatives.
Challenges Associated With Family Businesses
Whether it’s your family business or a business you inherit, probate litigation is often just as important as probate administration. There are many reasons why having an attorney who specializes in both fields will benefit your family, and yourself.
If you have a family business or are an executor for an estate with one, consult an attorney who handles both probate litigation and administration to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
Death and Taxes
When a loved one passes away, a host of financial and legal issues arise. As an executor or administrator, you’ll be in charge of these issues—but are you prepared? One big task is probating an estate.
This process settles all debts and legal obligations, including paying off any mortgages or liens. If there’s not enough money to pay them off, creditors may have claims on your deceased loved one’s property.
Dealing with Inheritance Disputes
Getting an inheritance can be a big relief for some people, but for others, it can stir up unwanted conflict. If you or your clients have had to deal with disputes over inheritances, litigation specialists in probate law are well-equipped to help settle these issues.
You’ll find they also offer other services such as guiding families through estate administration, reviewing trusts, and administering powers of attorney.
Handling Exceptions To Wills
When a loved one dies, a court-appointed executor will take care of their estate. As an executor, you are legally responsible for making sure that all bequests are distributed to beneficiaries, that debts and taxes are paid, and all other matters in accordance with your state’s laws.
You might want to use specialized legal help if your job is complicated by unusual or contested facts. That’s when it helps to have an attorney who specializes in probate litigation. How so?
Benefits Of Considering A General Practice Attorney For Probate Issues
General practice attorneys typically have a broad range of experience. They are qualified to handle complex and nuanced probate issues but are also prepared to represent their clients in more transactional matters.
This is because general practice attorneys often have expertise in other areas as well, such as real estate law or corporate law. By hiring a specialist for your probate needs, you will be working with an attorney who doesn’t necessarily have specialized knowledge about estates or trusts.