If your loved one passed away with a basic will or no estate planning in place, the estate will need to go through probate. This will require hiring a lawyer to take you through the process of administering the estate, verifying that the debts are paid, distributing assets, and following your loved one's wishes. Here is how a probate lawyer helps with this process.
Collect Proceeds From Life Insurance
Do you know if your loved one had a life insurance policy? This can take a bit of research, by either finding the proper documents or figuring out what company the life insurance policy was with. A probate lawyer assists with this research and taking the necessary steps to collect that life insurance policy.
Obtain Appraisals For Real Estate And Personal Property
Your loved one likely had various assets that they left behind and need to be appraised. This is a necessary process to help pay off debts that they owe or to help with distributing assets. This all involves having items appraised, which your lawyer will help take care of for you.
Assist With Paying Bills And Debts
There will be outstanding bills that your loved one has to pay in order to settle their estate. These could be outstanding credit card bills that were never paid off, final utility bills, and things of that nature. Your probate lawyer knows what bills to look for so they can ensure all debts are paid off.
File Documents With The Court
There are many documents that needed to be filed with your local court system to help settle the estate. Your lawyer will help draft and file these documents and make sure it is all done properly and on time. Having their expertise will help this process go more smoothly.
Resolve Tax Issues
There are nearly always unresolved tax issues when trying to settle an estate. There could be income taxes that need to be paid, property taxes on the deceased's home that need to be settled, and things of that nature that need to be handled. Your probate lawyer helps make sure that all these tax issues are settled.
Make Final Disbursements
Once all of the other issues surrounding the estate are settled, final disbursements can be made to the heirs of the estate. Your probate lawyer helps draft the documents for these final disbursements and guides the executor on how to do it.