Probate Lawyers Play Important Role in Estate Planning and Settlement



Probate lawyers are an essential part of estate planning and estate settlement. Individuals retain probate attorneys to execute their last will and testament. Estate executors can hire lawyers to draft and record legal documents through the court or to help with estate administration duties.

There are two types of probate lawyers; Transactional and Probate Litigators. Transactional lawyers handle estate related duties, while probate litigators are used when heirs contest the Will or if family conflicts arise.

Most people use Transactional lawyers to submit the last will and testament and death certificate. When decedents die without leaving a Will, Transactional attorneys are required to appoint an estate executor and assist in estate settlement procedures.

Common estate duties include sending creditor notification letters; obtaining affidavits for real estate transfers; drafting 'consent to transfer' forms for financial accounts; and filing final tax returns.

Probate litigators are retained to defend the estate when heirs contest decedent Wills or if lawsuits are filed against the estate during the probate process. They can also be helpful in mediating family disputes regarding distribution of inheritance property.

Some probate lawyers are qualified to handle both transactional and litigation cases. When seeking the services of attorneys it is recommended to interview three or more lawyers to determine which is best suited for the needs of the estate.

It is also important to work with a lawyer whose personality is suited to the estate administrator. Managing an estate can be extremely emotional and working with a lawyer who shows little compassion or interest can make the process nearly unbearable.

It is important to be prepared when interviewing attorneys. When calling to arrange a meeting ask for a list of required information. At minimum, lawyers will require the decedent's social security number, date of birth, date of death, and legal documents including the last will and testament, death certificate, life insurance policies, tax returns, and property deeds.

When estates consist of substantial real estate holdings, it is best to work with probate lawyers who possess experience in real estate law. Transferring property to heirs can be a complex matter and requires specific documents to be filed through the court system.

Individuals can avoid probate by engaging in estate planning strategies prior to death. The only ironclad way to avoid probate is to establish a trust. Trusts are generally used when estate values exceed $100,000. Individuals with small estates can still protect assets here by establishing payable-on-death and transfer-on-death beneficiaries.

Probate lawyers can be located by conducting online research or by visiting the American Bar Association website at Abanet.org. Consider obtaining referrals from relatives, friends, or co-workers. Asking for referrals can save time and reduce the frustration associated with interviewing multiple attorneys.


Probate lawyers are an essential part of estate planning and estate settlement. Estate executors can hire lawyers to draft and record legal documents through the court or to help with estate administration duties.

It is also important to work with a lawyer whose personality is suited to the estate administrator. Managing an estate can be extremely emotional and working with a lawyer who shows little compassion or interest can make the process nearly unbearable.

Individuals can avoid probate by engaging in estate planning strategies prior to death.

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