In general, a probate lawyer (also referred to as trust or estate lawyers) aids estate executors, or administrators if there’s no will, in managing the entire probate process. Probate lawyers can likewise aid in estate planning including in the drafting of living trusts or wills, advising on powers of attorney, or serving as administrators or executors.
If There’s a Will
If a person passes away (the decedent) and left a will, a probate attorney can help beneficiaries and executors on many legal issues. And while there’s plenty of reasons some people decide to challenge a will, most wills actually finish probate without issues. A Denver probate attorney may also help in the following:
- Collection and management of life insurance
- Property appraisals
- Find and secure the assets of the decedent
- Advise beneficiaries on settling all bills and debts of the decedent
- Prepare an file necessary documents needed by the probate court
- Manage the checkbook of the estate
- Check if there are estate taxes involved
If There’s No Will
If the decedent dies without writing and signing a will, they are considered to have passed away “intestate”. If this is the case, the distribution of the decedent’s estate will be based on the state’s intestacy laws — where the property is located — despite of the decedent’s wishes. For example, the surviving spouse gets all the decedent’s intestate assets automatically under the intestacy laws of many states, but intestacy laws are significantly different from one state to another.
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In cases like this, a Denver probate attorney can assist the estate’s administrator and the assets of the decedent will be allocated based on the state’s laws. However, keep in mind that a while a probate lawyer can aid in the legal matters outlined, they are still bound legally by a state’s intestacy laws, irrespective of the wishes of the decedent or the beneficiaries’ or family’s needs because there’s no will. A probate lawyer can also help the estate administrator during the whole probate process.