As the executor, or personal representative, of an estate, you have a lot of work ahead of you. Although there are some cases where you are not required to hire a probate attorney, there are many reasons why you should. Probate lawyers make the process less stressful and less time consuming for you. If you are thinking of trying to settle the estate on your own, here are our top three reasons why we recommend everyone hire a lawyer to assist them through the probate process.
1. Accurate Interpretation of the Will
Because a will is a legal document, failing to distribute the assets as directed in it can leave you liable for incorrect distribution of the estate. Although many wills are straightforward, others are not. When an estate is tied to a trust, it can be an even more complex situation. Your probate attorney will assume all liability for proper distribution, removing your liability.
2. Resolve Disputes Among Heirs and/or Outside Claims Against the Estate
Whether you are the personal representative appointed by the deceased or an heir, a probate attorney can help with any issues regarding claims or disputes. Outside claims most often occur when the probate process is not started in a timely manner. However, they are also common in situations where there were multiple marriages and several sets of children. Probate lawyers know how, where and when to file the paperwork and get it done right.
3. Handling Creditors and the IRS
Perhaps the most complex part of the distribution of an estate is handling creditor claims. As much as there are many obvious and straightforward claims in many situations (a home or car loan for example), there can be many unexpected and unknown claims. In Florida, creditors have three months in which to file a claim against an estate. Probate lawyers know how to identify valid claims and see that they are paid. Of course, the exception to the three-month rule is the IRS. Your probate attorney will provide the necessary information to an accountant to file the deceased final tax return.
Trust Wagstaff & Pitelis for All Your Estate Needs
Whether you are looking for probate lawyers in Belleair or the local area because you are the executor of an estate or realize that it is time to establish a will or trust, call Wagstaff & Pitelis. We understand that the process of choosing an estate or probate lawyer can be stressful, but you will find that our team is compassionate, knowledgeable and ready to help you. Call us today at (727) 584-8182 or fill out our contact form.