Why You Should Hire a Probate Attorney

February 16, 2023

It can be extremely difficult for you and your loved ones when a family member passes away. In addition to grieving, you may also be tasked with handling that family member's estate. This can be a complicated process, and if you are unfamiliar with Indiana probate law, you should consider hiring an attorney.

What is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that involves distributing a deceased person's assets and debts. Typically a probate court appoints an executor or administrator to oversee the estate and ensure all debts are paid, and all assets are distributed according to the deceased person's wishes.

The probate process involves:

  • Filing the petition for probate 
  • Appointing a personal representative 
  • Notice any creditors 
  • Create an inventory and start the appraisal process 
  • Pay any outstanding debts or taxes 
  • Distribute any assets 
  • Close the estate

Probate might be unnecessary if the decedent died without any assets in their name. This is because there would be nothing for the estate to pay out to creditors or beneficiaries. Probate is also unnecessary if everything the decedent owned was jointly owned with another person and passed directly to the survivor upon death.

If you're dealing with the death of a loved one in Indiana, the last thing you want to worry about is navigating the legal system on your own. Hiring an Indiana probate attorney can take the burden off your shoulders and help ensure that the property distribution is handled according to your loved one's wishes.

Why You Need a Probate Attorney: 

The probate process is relatively simple if there is a valid will. However, the probate process can be much more complicated if there is no will or the will is contested. In either case, it is generally a good idea to hire a probate attorney to help you navigate the process and protect your interests.

Whether or not you should hire an Indiana probate lawyer will depend on various scenarios and factors. Some of them include the following:

  • Debts and taxes: If any property needs to be sold to pay debts or taxes, a probate attorney can help ensure the rights of the debtors and beneficiaries are protected.
  • The condition of the beneficiaries: If some beneficiaries are minors, disabled, or live in another state, a probate attorney can help protect their interests. If you are overwhelmed by emotions, it is also advisable to seek the services of a probate lawyer. This gives you enough time to process as the complex legal issues are being taken care of.
  • Relationships between beneficiaries: If there are any disputes among beneficiaries about how the assets should be distributed, a probate attorney can help you resolve those disputes and prevent court battles.
  • The size of the estate: If the estate is large and complex, it may be challenging to navigate the probate process without an attorney. Part of an Indiana probate attorney's job is to ensure the estate is properly valued and distributed according to your loved one's wishes.

Estates that only include common assets like brokerage accounts, household goods, vehicles, and houses can be relatively straightforward to settle. However, if the estate is more complicated, including commercial real estate, a business, or items that require ongoing handling, you will need the help of an Indiana probate attorney.

Hiring a probate attorney gives you peace of mind during a difficult and stressful time. You can focus on grieving and caring for yourself and your family while your attorney handles everything.

What Does a Probate Attorney Do?

A probate attorney generally represents the estate, the personal representative, or an heir of an estate. Some of the responsibilities of a probate attorney include the following:

  • Collecting the deceased's insurance policy proceeds
  • Paying inheritance taxes
  • Paying due income and estate taxes
  • Determining estate assets
  • Distributing property after paying taxes and bills
  • Managing the property's checking account
  • Filling and preparing court documents
  • Retitling property in the heirs' names

As an estate administrator, you likely have several questions about how to perform your responsibilities. An attorney can help eliminate the confusion. For example, you can consult a lawyer to help with debt settlement, court filings, asset appraisal, and distributing inheritance. Additionally, a probate lawyer can help you speed up the probate process, particularly if you are an untrained executor.

How to Find the Right Probate Attorney

Some of the tips for finding the right probate attorney in Indiana Include:

  • Research your options: When looking for a probate attorney, it is important to research. You can start by asking friends or family members if they have any recommendations. Once you have some names in mind, check online reviews to get an idea of what others say about their experience with the attorney.
  • Schedule a consultation: Once you have narrowed your choices, it is time to schedule a consultation with a probate attorney. This will allow you to ask them questions and get a feel for their personality and how they can handle your case. During your consultation, ask the attorney about their experience with probate law in Indiana, what fees they charge, and how they would handle your specific case.
  • Get everything in writing: After you have decided to work with a particular attorney, get everything in writing. This should include their services' scope and fees to avoid surprises down the road.

Contact Our Indiana Probate Attorneys Today to Get Started

The Indiana probate attorneys at Applegate & Dillman Elder Law can handle various aspects of the probate process. Whether you are an heir or estate administrator, we can offer the legal support you need to ensure the property is distributed as per the deceased's wishes. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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