How Can a Lawyer Help You With Probate?
If you have been named the personal representative of a loved one’s estate, you are probably wondering whether or not you need to hire a probate lawyer. Probate as defined by the Florida Courts is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person, paying their debts, and distributing their assets to their beneficiaries.
What Does a Probate Lawyer Do?
A probate lawyer works with the personal representative of an estate to settle the affairs of the decedent. A knowledgeable probate lawyer will answer all of your questions and guide you through every step of the probate process, including:
• Preparing and filing documents with the probate court;
• Serving notices to creditors, heirs, and local newspapers;
• Resolving federal and state tax issues;
• Assisting in the payment of outstanding debts and final bills;
• Collecting life insurance policy proceeds;
• Identifying all estate assets;
• Ordering appraisals for real property;
• Managing the estate checking account; and
• Transferring real estate and other assets to beneficiaries.
What are the Benefits of Having a Lawyer Help With Probate in Naples?
Probate lawyers are not legally required, but their support is indispensable. Below are four benefits of hiring a Naples probate lawyer.
1. Prevent Personal Liability for the Personal Representative. In Florida, a personal representative can be held personally liable to estate beneficiaries if they make mistakes that adversely impact the estate, even if the mistake was unintentional. If you are administering an estate without professional help, it is easy to make an error when gathering assets, generating reports, giving notice, paying creditors, distributing assets, and taking other required steps.
A qualified probate attorney is highly unlikely to make a mistake. They know how to complete the tasks and navigate the system. If your attorney does make a mistake, they will assume the liability instead of you.
2. Save Time. Probate is not a quick process. It involves a lot of details and can take months to years to complete. The process will be significantly delayed if forms are improperly filled out or not filed before deadlines.
A Naples probate lawyer is a specialist. They know the probate court rules, procedures, and court officials intimately. They will be able to recognize potential issues ahead of time so they don’t become problems. Your lawyer will know the steps to take and ensure that your case is handled properly at every step so the estate is administered as efficiently as possible.
3. Reduce Conflict. Having a probate lawyer involved in the administration of the estate significantly reduces the potential for disputes. Settling an estate often leads to differing opinions between family members, greed, and impatience. A probate attorney will ensure that everything is handled in a professional and legal manner. They can provide an unbiased perspective on the situation and ensure everything is dealt with fairly.
Litigation is expensive and time-consuming. If your estate is challenged, the costs can eat away at your inheritance and take years to resolve. If there is a dispute, your probate lawyer will ensure that it is resolved early in the process.
4. Minimize Stress. Losing a loved one is incredibly hard, especially if you have the added stress of planning a funeral or becoming the caregiver for a spouse or dependent they left behind. Administering an estate during this time of grief can be overwhelming. The personal representative has many responsibilities, and a lawyer can help release some of this burden.
Having an attorney handling the probate process allows you to step back from the time-consuming probate process and focus on your family when they need you the most.
There are certain situations where a Naples probate lawyer is especially helpful. If one of the below situations applies to you, it is critical to reaching out to a Naples probate lawyer.
• The will is unclear or its validity is in question;
• There is the conflict between family members;
• The estate is large;
• The estate includes a business or another complex asset;
• The estate owes back taxes; or
• The estate doesn’t have the capacity to handle its debts.
Call A Probate Lawyer in Naples, Florida
If you have questions about probate, you should contact an experienced probate lawyer. James R. Nici is an experienced Naples attorney with over 25 years of experience, located in Naples, Florida and Board-Certified by the Florida Bar as a Specialist in Wills, Trusts, and Estates. James R. Nici can help you prepare and file accountings and other required documents, answer all your questions, and offer technical assistance throughout the entire process so your Probate Administration can conclude smoothly, successfully, and with a minimum cost to the estate in terms of time and expense.