When & Why To Contact A Probate Attorney

Although any adult with assets should have an estate plan, not everyone decides to create them. Are they required to? No, but failing to do so could be at the expense of their family, friends, and loved ones. 

When someone passes away without an estate plan, they have died intestate. Their assets go through probate. An executor uses those assets to pay off outstanding debts. Anything that remains gets distributed according to interstate laws. Even if the deceased doesn’t have an estate plan, there seem to be steps in place to handle that. So why would you need an attorney?

The Complexities Of Probate

Though the scenario outlined above seems straightforward, it can quickly become complicated. That is why the process can take several months to a year—sometimes longer. If there is no will or estate plan, how do you plan on accessing the deceased’s accounts? Even though the person has passed away, that doesn’t give you instant access to their accounts. An attorney can facilitate and navigate the challenges being presented here. 

In addition to the above, probate is public. People, family members, and creditors may make claims against the estate. There is the possibility that people may object due to what they are receiving (or not receiving). Attorneys are there to explain the law. Intestate laws are applicable, but someone unfamiliar with the law may face significant hurdles when attempting to understand and apply them to their situation. 

Not all assets are created equal. Whereas a house and bank accounts are relatively common elements of most people’s estates, what do you do if the deceased owned and operated a business? What if it was a law firm? There are solutions to these examples, and your attorney can walk you through each. 

Several steps in the process can cause confusion or confrontation. If you take the position that you want to avoid hiring an attorney to save money, consider the possibility of a lawsuit. Litigation will likely ensue when family members disagree about something in the probate process. Probate can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor, and adding in litigation only adds to both. 

Luis E. Barreto & Associates

For more than twenty years, Luis E. Barreto & Associates has been assisting clients with the complexities of estate litigation. Contact us for a free initial consultation for more information about our probate litigation services and how we can help you.