The probate process can be legally complicated and emotionally charged. Perhaps you are trying to figure out the estate of a deceased loved one who passed away without leaving a valid will. Or, maybe you have been named as an administrator, executor, or personal representative and don’t have a clue on what you are supposed to do next. Whether you need a probate lawyer would depend on what’s included in the estate and your specific situation.
When Do You Need a Probate Lawyer?
Although not all people will need a probate lawyer, there are certain situations, such as the ones below, in which you will need a lawyer:
- The decedent owned real estate that needs to be sold or distributed;
- The decedent owned unusual or substantial assets need to be probated, such as businesses, mineral rights, royalties, investments, etc.;
- The beneficiaries wish to alter their interest in the estate;
- The estate might be subject to federal taxes;
- Relationships among the beneficiaries are strained; or
- You’re dealing with an insolvent estate, meaning that it doesn’t have adequate assets for covering taxes and debts. You will need help figuring out how to pay off everything, negotiating with creditors, and selling assets.
You must likewise seek legal advice as soon as possible if you’re a beneficiary and you’re considering contesting the will.
Choosing The Right Probate Lawyer for Your Case
The first thing you need to do is to create a list of attorneys who seem like a good match for your specific needs. Ask your family, friends, and colleagues for recommendations. Check out online lawyer directories and the state bar association to see lawyer profiles. You can also read reviews online and check lawyer websites. Next, call the office of each lawyer on your shortlist and ask about the following:
- The lawyer’s expertise and experience – The areas of probate and estate planning overlap, and plenty of lawyers practice both. But it’s important to keep in mind that they’re not the same, such that not all lawyers who can craft a will have experience handling probate procedures like administration or litigation. This means that you must hire a probate lawyer who has ample experience working with probate cases similar to yours.
- The lawyer’s professional record – Generally speaking, the lawyer you’re looking to hire should not have a history of disciplinary issues. You can look up the lawyer’s professional record by checking with the state bar.
- The lawyer’s rates – How much is the fee for a consultation? Do they charge by the hour, or if not, how? Would you need to pay a retainer? While you might not be able to obtain all this information with a phone call, asking about the rates would give you a ballpark figure.
Learn What Our Columbia, SC Probate Lawyer Can Do for You
Trying to navigate and make sense of the probate process is no easy task. If you’re going to go at it alone, you must know all about the state’s probate procedures and rules. Otherwise, working with a skilled Columbia probate lawyer would be the most suitable option for you. Get in touch with Parker Law today and arrange your free case consultation with our experienced Columbia probate lawyer by calling 803-918-5424 or filling out our online form.
How long does probate take?
The probate process usually takes a year to finish as long as all the requirements are filed with the probate court on time. However, some factors, such as the capability of the personal representative, whether there’s a valid will, and whether the will is being contested, among other things, could make the process longer.
Can I avoid probate?
Depending on your circumstances, yes, there’s a chance that you can avoid probate. An experienced Columbia probate lawyer will be able to determine the most viable options specific to your case.
Is a lawyer needed for the probate process?
In the vast majority of cases, yes. If you’re involved in the probate process, you must consult a lawyer for legal advice, particularly if you’re serving as the estate’s executor or personal representative or are thinking about contesting the will.