Things You Didn’t Know a Probate Lawyer Can Help You With

Probate Lawyer

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is difficult enough without having to navigate the confusing legalities of probate. You may think a probate attorney Rockford IL-based is there solely to handle the will and distribute assets, but their services extend far beyond that. Keep reading to learn unexpected ways a probate attorney can help you out.

What Probate Actually Entails

Before getting into the extra services, it helps to understand what probate is in the first place. When someone passes away, probate is the court-supervised process of assessing and distributing their estate according to state laws and their will if they had one. The court appoints an executor who inventories assets, pays debts and taxes, and ensures beneficiaries receive inheritances. Navigating this complex process is where a probate lawyer comes in handy for more than just the standard legal paperwork.

Tracking Down Assets

After a death, you may be unaware of assets the deceased owned or had forgotten about over time. An experienced probate attorney has methods of investigating and locating these, from real estate holdings to forgotten bank accounts, investment accounts or safe deposit boxes. They know how to search public records and various databases to uncover assets you may miss on your own.

Evaluating Validity of Wills and Trusts

Family conflict can arise when questions surround the validity of the deceased’s will or trust. If someone suspects coercion, diminished mental capacity or undue influence, they may contest the documents in court. A probate litigator represents you in the dispute and determines whether enough evidence exists to overturn a will. They handle all filings and court proceedings regarding the case.

Mitigating Family Conflict

Emotions and discord between heirs often complicate probate following a traumatic loss. A lawyer serves as an objective third party to diffuse heated disputes among family members regarding the estate or accusations against the executor. Their top priority is ensuring probate goes smoothly according to the decedent’s wishes.

Paying Off Debts

Before beneficiaries can receive their share, outstanding debts and taxes on the estate must first get paid. But sometimes identifying or locating creditors proves challenging. The probate attorney gives official notice to known and unknown creditors through publication, establishes claims deadlines and validates debts against the estate. This protects you from personal liability for unpaid obligations left behind.

Sale of Property

As executor, you may need to sell estate property to generate funds for paying debts or taxes before distributing inheritances. Real estate laws vary by state, so a probate lawyer handles all preparation, paperwork and filings to list property and finalize sales through the probate process legally. They also facilitate sales of vehicles, jewelry, art or other valuables that heirs don’t wish to keep.

Tax Reporting and Filing

The deceased’s estate itself represents a separate tax entity that requires numerous tax returns before assets transfer to heirs. These involve both federal and state estate tax and income tax returns. An experienced probate attorney knows which forms the estate must file, requirements for documentation, amounts allowable for deductions and how to resolve disputes with tax agencies.

There’s no need to go it alone when winding up someone’s estate. Whether contested wills, hidden assets, tax issues or family clashes slow things down, a probate lawyer brings specialized expertise to efficiently settle the estate. Don’t hesitate to call one for assistance.