Why You Need a Probate Attorney

Los Angeles Probate Attorney is a valuable resource to anyone handling an estate, especially one that’s complex. They can help with issues involving the legal validity of the will, debts, taxes, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

Probate Attorney

A probate lawyer can also help to prevent disputes that can slow down the process. However, before hiring an attorney it’s important to understand how they charge.

It’s hard enough to deal with the loss of a loved one, but adding dissension between family members over a will or trust can make matters even more challenging. If a family member or other interested party challenges a will or trust, it’s important that you have a probate attorney on your side who can defend against the challenge and help protect your loved ones’ wishes.

A will can be challenged in court for a variety of reasons, including lack of testamentary capacity, fraud, undue influence and more. A qualified probate lawyer can help you examine the will and trust instrument for any red flags that might point to a dispute and can help you prepare a petition detailing the reason why the document should be thrown out. They can also negotiate with other parties involved in the dispute to try to settle the matter outside of court.

When defending against a will contest, you need to be prepared to provide evidence that supports your loved one’s choices and demonstrates that the deceased was of sound mind at the time the will was made. This can include medical records and testimony from doctors about your loved one’s state of mind at the time the will was written.

Another way to defend against a will challenge is by arguing that the person who filed the challenge did not meet the required deadlines for doing so and has failed to properly follow court procedures. In addition, you may need to sue the party who filed the complaint to prove that they are a creditor or other interested party seeking a claim against the estate.

Finally, you need to consider the characteristics of the disputed assets. For example, if the assets in question are in a trust that doesn’t go through the probate process, challenging them may require filing a lawsuit against the trustee. This can be costly and should be weighed carefully before proceeding. Your New York probate attorney can help you determine the best course of action based on your specific situation. Many probate attorneys offer hourly rates and flat fees, so you can choose which option is more suitable for your needs.

Streamlining the Probate Process

When someone passes away, the person’s estate must go through probate to verify that their will is valid, pay any outstanding taxes or debts and distribute property and possessions among beneficiaries. The process can be complex, expensive and time-consuming for the living family members involved. A probate attorney can help streamline the process, helping to ensure that all legal requirements are met and that the beneficiaries receive everything they are entitled to.

The first step in determining what probate process to use involves collecting information and documents about the deceased’s assets, including real estate, financial accounts and other possessions. An attorney can help to organize this information and determine what steps must be taken to transfer ownership of property, including identifying which assets may qualify for a small estate affidavit. This can significantly reduce the amount of paperwork that must be filed.

An experienced attorney can also handle the complicated task of valuing and listing assets for sale, which can be especially challenging when dealing with unique or illiquid assets. They can also help to identify creditors and negotiate with them, ensuring that legitimate claims are paid while protecting the estate from unfounded demands.

A probate lawyer can also be instrumental in determining how to best manage the distribution of property to beneficiaries, ensuring that any tax liabilities are paid and addressing any disputes that may arise. This can help to minimize the time that is required for probate and ultimately reduce the overall cost of distributing an estate.

An attorney can also advise on strategies for avoiding probate altogether, such as establishing trusts and using no-contest clauses to discourage disgruntled family members from contesting the will. Additionally, they can review an individual’s current estate plan to make sure that it is up-to-date and comprehensive so that, if the estate must be probated, it can do so with a minimal amount of work. This can save money, time and hassle for the beneficiaries of the estate and their families.

Defending Against Creditors

Creditors may have the right to pursue a claim against the estate of a deceased person. However, creditors must observe the state’s complex creditor claim statutes and file their case in court within a certain deadline or their claims will be barred forever. If a personal representative of a decedent’s estate fails to comply with these deadlines, it is important that creditors immediately enlist the help of a probate firm to pursue legal action.

Creditors can also seize a beneficiary’s inheritance to repay debts, but this process is time-consuming and complicated. Beneficiaries should work with their probate attorney to gather and value all remaining bank accounts, assets, and personal property, so that they are prepared for what might happen to their inheritance.

Sometimes, a creditor’s claim is based on a misunderstanding of what the parties agreed to, and this could provide grounds for a valid defense. The law states that both parties must have a clear understanding of what they are signing. If this is the case, the contract cannot be enforced by a court because it does not reflect the intentions of either party.

Another defense is that the creditor waited too long to notify the estate of the deceased person’s death. This is a serious issue because the personal representative of the estate has a duty to notify creditors. If the personal representative doesn’t do this, then creditors could miss their chance to file a claim and the claim might be barred forever.

The law allows creditors to take legal action against the estate of a deceased person if they can prove that the estate committed fraud or illegal conveyances to hide assets. If creditors suspect this is the case, they should immediately enlist the assistance of a probate firm to investigate and defend the claim. If the firm can successfully argue that the deceased person’s estate did commit fraud, then the court may award the creditor their claimed amount. Advance planning techniques like transferring property into an unbreakable trust or changing title can help to shield assets from creditors, but it is essential to seek legal guidance to make sure that any such strategies do not violate state laws.

Defending Against Beneficiaries

While people can choose to be their own Executor or Trustee, the complexity of the legal duties and responsibilities entailed in a probate matter typically requires a professional. Beneficiaries, creditors, and heirs sometimes take issue with the terms of a will or the distribution of assets by the trustee.

Whether the beneficiaries are trying to overturn a will or claim that the financial accounting provided by the trustee lacks accuracy and detail, or wants the trustee to pursue a gift that was made prior to death but that they think shouldn’t have been, those kinds of issues can be difficult to resolve and require the guidance of an experienced probate attorney.

A good probate attorney can help defend against claims against the Trustee by defending them against allegations of breach of fiduciary duty and wrongful taking of trust property. In addition, the attorney can assist with other disputes that arise during the probate process.

When a person dies without a will, their assets are divided up according to the state’s intestate laws. The lawyer will ensure that all of the intestate laws are followed and that the estate is disbursed appropriately.

If the estate contains enough money to pay all debts and expenses from the decedent’s last illness, funeral costs, and final income taxes, then the remaining assets can be distributed to beneficiaries. However, if there is not enough money to pay all of the legitimate debts and the beneficiaries are expecting to receive more than what they were entitled to under the intestate law or the terms of the will, then the attorney can work with the beneficiaries to negotiate a settlement that is mutually agreeable.

A probate attorney can also help in cases where the trustee is accused of wrongdoing, such as mishandling trust property, breaching fiduciary duty, or committing fraud. In these cases, the attorney can help the trustee fight these allegations by arguing equitable defenses such as laches, ratification, waiver, and estoppel. A good probate attorney will be able to help the trustee defend against these claims in court if necessary.