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Navigating Probate Courts


There is a court supervised process for the final disposition of a person's possessions called probate.  A decedent's estate is inventoried, outstanding debts are paid, and beneficiaries of the estate are verified.  Then the net assets from the estate are distributed.  Many people pass away "intestate," meaning without a will.  In those cases, the probate court appoints someone to decide how to distribute the cash, assets, and other property.  Even those with a will come under probate court jurisdiction and have their inventory and distribution overseen by the probate court. 

What is a Probate Attorney  

A probate attorney is a state-licensed lawyer who can help the Executor of a Will (if one was appointed) or the beneficiaries of an estate get through probate as they work to settle an estate. Services could typically include everything from finding and inventorying assets of the estate, to understanding and paying all the debts the estate may have, to distributing and settling the estate, and more.  

We are qualified probate attorneys ready to help with the actual Estate Planning process too, a

What Does a Probate Attorney Do? 

Also known as a probate lawyer, probate attorneys are hired to help settle an estate. After the death of a loved one, their Estate Plan dictates the next steps. If they have a Will, probate will be necessary. Trusts won’t go through probate, which can sometimes make the process a bit less complicated and much more private. But even if there is only a Trust involved (and not a Will, thus no probate), a probate attorney could still help the Trustee administer the Trust.

Who does a probate attorney represent? Probate attorneys generally either represent an heir to an estate (a beneficiary) or the personal representative or the estate itself. Though it rarely happens, they can occasionally play more than one role.  

A probate attorney can accomplish many things to settle an estate and assist the Executor and beneficiaries, including:

  • Collecting life insurance policy proceeds

  • Determining and paying inheritance taxes

  • Figuring out and paying estate and income taxes that may be due

  • Identifying all estate assets

  • Making final distributions after paying all bills and taxes

  • Opening and managing the estate’s checking account

  • Ordering property appraisals for real property

  • Paying debts and final bills Preparing and filing all court documents

  • Retitling assets in beneficiaries’ names

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