A probate attorney is not just an ordinary general practice attorney. A probate attorney is highly experienced in the whole probate procedure and is adept at handling cases involving estates, wills, and trusts. A probate attorney will:
As the person who would be financially responsible for the financial affairs of your loved ones after their death, the probate attorney should have a thorough knowledge about money management. The personal representative should ensure that your family members do not become overburdened with debt. To avoid this, he/she should keep in close contact with the beneficiary(s) and ensure that they do not accumulate large debts owed to others.
It may often happen that the debtors refuse to pay back their debts. If this happens then the court can appoint a probate attorney to settle the debt for a fee. He/she has to negotiate with the creditor to reduce the debt amount. The reduced amount is then applied by the creditor to the outstanding debts that have to be paid by you or by your beneficiaries. These debts are settled in a structured manner; you pay the fees to the attorney, divide the remaining amount among your beneficiaries according to the stipulated terms, and the remaining amount is then further distributed by the court.
Your loved ones can also claim property from the estate of the deceased person and can make claims on their decedent’s Social Security or other retirement benefits. However, your probate attorney may also advise you against making such claims as it may affect the debt recovery process. Moreover, the probate court is empowered to order property repossessed by the debtor.
Another reason why you should consider hiring an estate planning lawyer for managing your probate affairs is to save time. Most probate lawyers charge their clients based on the amount of work involved in their work. Hence, you can ensure that your attorney does all the work efficiently by having a good professional who does not charge a hefty hourly fee. You will be able to rest assured knowing that your financial and legal issues will be well taken care of. There is really no need to handle the issue yourself as with good attorneys handling it for you.
Lastly, it is necessary to choose a probate attorney who charges a reasonable flat fee. Some lawyers may charge a flat rate fee for the initial meeting itself, the drafting of the documents, and negotiations with creditors. However, other attorneys charge a regular hourly fee for the entire process including preparation of all the documents and taking care of any legal proceedings. Some lawyers offer a flat fee schedule for the entire process or some offer a set flat fee for a specified number of hours worked on a case. It is important to know what is offered before choosing a lawyer for your needs.