Did the decedent designate you to admit their last will or testament to probate? Perhaps you are the beneficiary to the decedent estate. If so, hiring a probate attorney in San Antonio is invaluable.
Dealing with the passing of a loved one can be challenging. However, this can be mind-boggling when you have to navigate the probate process. Furthermore, there’s a lot to do when winding up an estate.
To wind up an estate, undergoing the court-supervised probate process of validating a will is a must. It involves identifying decedent assets, paying obligations, and distributing estate assets to beneficiaries. Frankly, the process can be long, stressful, expensive, and time-consuming.
But how do you go about the probate process without any background experience? Well, this is where a reputable probate attorney becomes invaluable. These attorneys have in-depth knowledge of the process and know what to do, when, and how to do it.
But every probate lawyer is different, and some are better than others. Making the wrong choice only makes the process more intricate, expensive, and longer. This isn’t what you want, is it?
Here are six questions to ask before hiring a probate attorney to make the right choice.
1. How Long Have You Been Practicing Probate Law?
One of the utmost considerations during the probate process is the experience of the probate attorney. Keep in mind you will be relying on the counsel and guidance of the attorney to ensure everything is on track and the process is successful. However, if you hire an inexperienced attorney, you’ll be rubbing salt to the injury.
An experienced estate probate attorney has in-depth knowledge about the entire process. Furthermore, they have helped numerous clients wind up estate and have gained crucial insights during this time. They already know all the right procedures to follow in completing the process successfully.
Also, if a problem arises, chances are an experienced probate attorney has already dealt with it and knows the possible solution. And don’t forget they can also advise what you need to do to hurry up the process.
Prior to making the final choice of your attorney, you must confirm they are adept with the entire process. Ask about how long they have been practicing, the number of clients they have helped, and probate attorney fees. If possible, ask for contact details of their past clients to learn more about the experience of working with them.
2. What Documents Do I Need?
Before you meet up with the potential probate lawyer, this is a vital question to ask. Without the necessary documents and paperwork, the probate process could delay. After reaching out to the attorney to schedule the first meeting, ask them what you need to bring with you.
Some of the required information for the probate process include;
• Death certificate
• Original copy of decedent last will and testament
• Copies of any document already filed with the probate court
• Copies of an existing living trust (if applicable)
• Names and addresses of the beneficiaries listed in the will
• Copies of property deeds owned by the deceased
• Copies of all bills and financial obligations owed by the deceased
• Copies of the recent financial statements of the deceased. (life insurance policies, bank accounts, retirement, and investment accounts)
3. What Are the Executor’s Legal Duties?
In most cases, the individual meeting with the probate lawyer is likely to be named as the will executor. The attorney should describe all the duties of the administrator or executor.
• These may include
• Managing the estate property
• Paying the outstanding financial liabilities
• Distributing funds to beneficiaries.
Also, ask the attorney about fiduciary duty concerning the executor’s actions. If you are the executor, you get to know what is expected of you and how to go about it.
4. What Does Probate Involve?
Before getting started with the process, you want the probate attorney to explain to you what to expect in the probate process. The aim is to get a basic understanding of what the process involves from start to finish.
Their description should include;
• What needs to be filed and by when
• Who needs to be involved or present, and when?
• How long the process might take
All this information should help clear any doubt, misconception, or concern you may have about the probate process. Also, ask if the process is necessary as not all states require it.
5. How Are Creditors Handled?
During your first appointment with the attorney, ask about the payment of any outstanding obligations. Normally, any creditor owed by the deceased receives payment from the estate’s proceeds.
Suppose there are not enough liquid assets to settle the obligations. The executor may decide to sell the property to cover them.
While most people aren’t aware, the probate court has an outlined order for handling creditors. Getting all the details from a probate lawyer is key to ensuring all creditors are paid as required. This can go a long way to prevent future liability.
6. What If Someone Is Mishandling the Estate?
A person other than the executor can meet up with the probate attorney in certain cases. This might be in such a case where a concerned beneficiary believes the named executor is mismanaging the estate assets.
If this is the case, you’ll need to work closely with an experienced probate lawyer who will offer legal remedies. This action should be taken as soon as possible to protect the estate from misuse or abuse. However, it’s crucial to have adequate proof to back your concerns.
The Above Are Questions to Ask Your Probate Attorney in San Antonio
Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be a painful process. Going through the probate process during such time can be stressful and overwhelming. However, it doesn’t have to be this way with an experienced probate attorney.
Here are questions to ask your potential probate attorney in San Antonio.
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