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Unlocking Probate Success: Why A Probate Attorney Is Your Key

Feb 6, 2024 | Probate

If you know what probate is, you’re likely familiar with the negatives that are often associated with it. If you haven’t heard of probate until now, you probably (and unfortunately) recently lost someone and have found yourself right in the middle of navigating the intricate process. Either way, you may not realize the pivotal role that a probate attorney plays in the success of a probate case, and how important it is to have a professional in your corner.

In this blog we’ll discuss the complex steps of probate and the ways in which a probate attorney can alleviate some of the burden that comes along with the process while helping you settle your family member’s estate, allowing you the time to grieve and move forward.

Understanding Probate 

Before we discuss the crucial role of a probate attorney, let’s first talk about what exactly probate is. Probate is a legal court process that occurs after someone dies (a decedent) in order to prove that their will is valid before assets can be distributed to their heirs. 

Probate also occurs in the absence of a will, though it will be much more complicated, as it involves determining how assets should be distributed according to state intestacy laws, also known as intestate succession. Only assets that pass through probate will be affected by Pennsylvania’s intestate succession laws, so IRA funds, life insurance, anything in a living trust and other assets will be exempt from probate and instead go directly to a co-owner or named beneficiary. Otherwise, according to intestate succession, the rest of your assets will be distributed as follows:

If you have… Then your…
children but are not married children inherit assets
a spouse but no children or parents spouse inherits assets
a spouse and children from you and that spouse spouse inherits the first $30,000 of your property as well as 1/2 of the balanceand your children inherit everything else
a spouse and children from you and someone aside from your spouse spouse inherits 1/2 of your propertyand your children inherit everything else
spouse and parents spouse inherits the first $30,000 of your property, plus 1/2 of the balanceand your parents inherit remaining property
parents but no spouse or children parents inherit assets
siblings but no spouse, children, or parents siblings inherit assets

The Crucial Role Of A Probate Attorney

There are several important duties associated with the probate process, especially for the named executor. If that’s you, you’ll be responsible for…

  • Organizing estate documents
  • Filing the will with the appropriate court
  • Notifying beneficiaries, creditors, and the general public of the decedent’s passing
  • Taking inventory of the assets, as well as having them appraised
  • Filing a petition with the probate court
  • Managing and maintaining assets until they can be distributed
  • Paying off debts and taxes
  • Distributing assets
  • Closing the estate
  • And more

These are just a few of the items on your legal to-do list, so it’s understandable that you might be overwhelmed by your myriad of responsibilities. That’s why it’s important to enlist the help of a seasoned professional. 

A probate attorney is familiar with Pennsylvania’s probate laws, so they’ll not only be able to effectively explain your responsibilities but also carry them out. Their understanding of what is required of you can make the difference between a smooth probate process and potential probate challenges, which leads us into the next section…

Navigating Probate Challenges

By now you’ve probably realized that going through probate is a daunting journey where you’ll encounter more than one challenge. As we continue, let’s dive into some of the specific hurdles of probate that a probate attorney can significantly simplify so that you can get through the process with confidence and peace of mind. 

    1. The Cost

One of the main concerns of probate is how expensive it can be. In Pennsylvania, the cost of probate can range from $2,700 to $8,900 or more. The cost can vary depending on the size of the estate, as well as whether it is simple or complex. Although a probate attorney is an added expense, their knowledge of how to effectively assess your loved one’s estate and execute probate can help streamline the process and prevent you from making mistakes that might compromise or delay your case, resulting in more court fees, taxes, and other expenses.

    2. The Time

Probate can take anywhere from several months to over a year to resolve, so it’s safe to say that it’s not a swift procedure. The actual duration of probate is based upon the decedent’s individual circumstance, which is greatly influenced by the complexity and value of the estate, so factors like asset types, quantities, creditor claims, tax obligations, and possible disputes can slow down the process of closing your loved one’s estate. As previously mentioned, an attorney can optimize and facilitate the process in a way that saves you time, which in turn also saves you money and stress.

    3. The Stress

Every family has their issues, but unfortunately, a death in the family can truly bring up serious disputes and unforeseen conflict. From fights over who gets what, to battles over the validity of the will, the last thing you need during this difficult time is more stress. A probate attorney can help mitigate the discord so that you can focus on the tasks at hand and settle your relative’s estate as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

How Daly Law Offices Can Help You

If you’ve recently lost a loved one, we want to first extend our condolences. We know how overwhelming it can be to have a death in the family and be burdened by the lingering legal implications. The good news is that we are dedicated to helping you through every step of the probate process. We will take the time to get to know you, assess the circumstances of your family member’s affairs, and ensure that you remain legally compliant, fulfilling all of your executor duties in order to streamline the process as much as possible. If you’re concerned about what comes next, know that you are our top priority. Call Daly Law Offices today to schedule a free consultation and discover your next steps.

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