Where Can I Find a Probate Attorney - morgan and morgan
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Where Can I Find a Probate Attorney?

Where Can I Find a Probate Attorney?

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Where Can I Find a Probate Attorney?

The overwhelming grief of losing a loved one does not dissipate over time. However, life must go on and that includes handling the legal process called probate. Probate represents the process of managing and distributing the assets of the deceased according to the estate plan developed by the deceased. However, a loved one might not have written a will, which means the probate process can become highly complex. Between trying to designate beneficiaries and disputing the shares of an inheritance, knowing the answer to the question, “Where can I find a probate attorney?” can help resolve the probate process.

Even if a will provides clear instructions on how to divide the assets left behind by the deceased, working with an experienced probate attorney ensures every wish granted by the deceased is properly honored according to the legal terms established by an estate plan. A probate lawyer is there to help make arrangements for the funeral, as well as finalize the distribution of the deceased’s assets. If you have lost a loved one, knowing where to find a probate attorney helps you navigate through the complicated process.

At Morgan & Morgan, our law firm has represented clients for more than 30 years who needed legal support during the probate process. Our probate attorneys review estate plans and then take immediate action to ensure the wishes of the deceased are honored by every beneficiary. Not only is our team of probate lawyers highly-rated litigators, but we also receive positive feedback for the compassionate way we help clients go through probate during the most difficult times of their lives.

Schedule a free case evaluation to learn more about how our team of probate attorneys can help you carry out the wishes of a loved one.

What Is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that involves the distribution of the assets owned by a deceased family member. As a required element of settling an estate, you can avoid going through probate only under certain circumstances that depend on state law. A probate court oversees the process of distributing the deceased’s assets, as well as appoints an executor or a representative to manage the estate. The executor or representative of the estate pays off outstanding debts and distributes the deceased’s assets to named beneficiaries.

The states that do not always require full probate have set a minimum value of an estate for it to go through the probate process. Although the probate process is relatively straightforward, it becomes quite complex if the deceased has not named beneficiaries or even created an estate plan such as a will or trust.

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FAQ

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  • What Does a Probate Attorney Do?

    A probate lawyer assumes several legal responsibilities to alleviate the burden of settling an estate for family members. Hiring a probate lawyer helps family members collect the proceeds from life insurance policies, as well as identify and secure the assets that are associated with the estate. Acquiring an appraisal of the deceased’s property represents an important responsibility because personal property is the foundation for valuing assets. Paying bills and settling outstanding debts are required before the executor or representative for the estate begins to distribute assets.

    A probate court requires the filing of several documents, many of which use complex legal language to describe the steps it takes to complete the probate process. You discover how much in inheritance taxes each beneficiary is responsible for covering, as well as resolve any tax issues the deceased had before death.  Resolving tax issues is an especially important role of a probate attorney because of the high fees and interest charged by tax collecting entities such as the Internal Revenue Service. The probate lawyer that you hire also manages the estate checking account and distributes the assets left in the deceased’s name to the appropriate beneficiaries.

  • What Is the Probate Process?

    Probate laws that dictate the legal process differ among the 50 states. However, most states follow a general process that involves following similar steps.

    Submit a Petition

    Filing the proper documents represents the first step of the probate process. The probate attorney that you work with from Morgan & Morgan files the will written by the deceased, as well as files a petition for the court to appoint an executor or representative of the estate to follow the wishes established by the deceased. After receiving the petition, the probate court notifies each beneficiary concerning the assets they receive as part of fulfilling the legal requirements set forth in the deceased’s will. 

    Beneficiaries have the right to challenge the will in court. If the deceased did not leave behind a will, the probate court receives a petition for the administration of the estate. Every heir of the deceased receives a copy of the document detailing the request for estate administration. 

    List the Deceased’s Assets and Debts

    The appointed executor or representative of the deceased’s estate must identify every asset and every source of personal debt. Assets such as vehicles, investments, bank accounts, and real estate fall under the legal control of the executor or representative of the deceased’s estate. The next step is to identify every debt the deceased is responsible for paying off, including but not limited to mortgages, credit cards, medical bills, utility bills, and the cost of the funeral and burial. 

    After identifying assets and debts, the executor or representative of the deceased’s estate files the last tax return for the estate and pays any taxes owed because of the liquidation of certain assets.

    Distribution of Assets

    After paying off debts and fulfilling tax obligations, the executor or representative of the deceased’s estate starts distributing the estate’s remaining assets. If the deceased left behind a will, the executor or representative of the estate distribute the deceased’s assets according to the instruction written in the will. On the other hand, if the deceased did not write a will, state law determines how the executor or representative of the estate should distribute the assets. After completing the probate process, the court receives a document that describes the final accounts of the estate, which includes the payment of debts and the distribution of the deceased’s assets.

    Because of the complexity of the probate process, it can take more than a year to resolve every legal issue. Working with one of the highly-rated probate attorneys at Morgan & Morgan can shorten the probate process, while ensuring you receive all the financial protections granted by state law.

  • What Are the Most Common Probate Problems?

    Knowing where to find a probate attorney is important for several reasons that include helping you overcome one or more of the many obstacles that arise during the often complex legal process. Conflicts can develop between heirs, as well as between creditors and the executor or representative of the deceased’s estate. An experienced probate lawyer helps you resolve problems such as distributing assets when the deceased did not create a will. 

    A knowledgeable probate attorney from Morgan & Morgan prevents creditors from making unjust claims on the estate’s assets. One or more heirs not named in the deceased’s will might take legal action in an attempt to get the state to name them beneficiaries. You may have to facilitate the sale of one or more of the deceased’s businesses. A probate attorney tracks down heirs and beneficiaries that are difficult to contact or locate. Finally, working with a state-licensed probate lawyer resolves every dispute that arises over the valuation of the deceased’s estate.

  • What Are the Common Disputes That Arise During the Probate Process?

    An accomplished probate attorney should possess outstanding negotiation skills to help resolve the common disputes that arise during the probate process. Working with a probate lawyer from Morgan & Morgan helps you navigate through the complex legal process, but the real value of a Morgan & Morgan probate lawyer is resolving one or more disputes.

    Undue Influence

    Undue influence occurs when one heir coerces or influences an individual to change a part of the will. For example, a beneficiary might threaten a highly vulnerable senior into changing a portion of the will to the beneficiary’s financial advantage. Your probate attorney can push to have a will declared invalid if your legal counsel discovers evidence that one heir coerced or influenced another heir into making a change in the will.

    Elder Abuse

    Elder abuse during the probate process involves financially taking advantage of a senior. According to the National Council on Aging, the total losses attributed to elder financial abuse during the probate process are estimated to be at least $36 billion per year. An heir or beneficiary who has the power of attorney or guardianship over a vulnerable senior might exploit the senior by siphoning money away from the vulnerable senior.

    Improper Execution of the Will

    You or any other heir and beneficiary has the right to contest a will if it is improperly signed or the signatures were obtained without the confirmation of a witness. An incorrectly drafted will, as well as a will that contains mistakes, is considered an invalid legal document.

    Estate Planning Malpractice

    One of the roles of the probate attorney that you hire from Morgan & Morgan is to ensure every other lawyer involved in the probate process does make any mistakes or commit one or more oversights when planning for the continuation of the client’s estate. Detecting an error and/or oversight committed by another party’s attorney can invalidate the entire probate process.

    Breach of Fiduciary Duty

    Not only must every lawyer involved in the probate process commit no mistakes or oversights, but the same legal principle also applies to the executor or representative of the deceased’s estate. If an executor or representative of the estate makes an error or worse commits fraud, the executor or representative of the deceased’s estate might have to pay monetary damages.

    Other disputes might arise that require the legal expertise of one of the skilled probate litigators from Morgan & Morgan. The key is to prevent disputes from getting out of hand, which can delay or even derail the probate process.

  • Contact Morgan & Morgan

    You can expect to find several resources online that explain where to find a probate attorney. Morgan & Morgan makes the answer to the question, “Where can I find a probate attorney?” easy to answer. We have handled probate cases for more than three decades and by using that experience, we provide legal support for our clients to overcome problems and resolve legal disputes.

    Schedule a free case evaluation with one of the probate attorneys at Morgan & Morgan to protect your rights as an heir or beneficiary.

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