If you are considering starting the estate planning process, you probably have many questions about how to begin: what assets are involved? What are the procedures in my state? How much will it cost? A trusted probate lawyer can help you with any concerns you may have about ensuring that your or your loved one’s wishes are carried out at the time of death. Most homeowners will consult with an attorney at some point as they begin to think about how they would like their assets to be distributed. This first step allows you to have a solid foundation of knowledge before you decide whether or not to hire an attorney to handle the estate. Here is what to expect when consulting with a probate lawyer.
Going Over the Probate Process
The attorney will most likely walk you through the basics of what probate entails in your state. Generally, it is the legal process by which a deceased person’s assets are distributed according to their last will and testament. If the decedent does not leave a will, a probate court may step in to appoint an executor. Property held jointly or in trust is usually not subject to probate, which is why many people choose to set up trusts. The process usually takes about seven months from start to finish and involves court fees a lawyer can explain in detail.
Be Prepared to Answer Questions
When you visit an estate planning attorney or consult with one by phone, it is best if you have a good idea of the estate’s assets and value. You should also be aware of any assets such as vehicles and bank accounts that will most likely be subject to the probate process. The lawyer you visit can advise you on whether it is in your best interest to place your assets in a living trust, for instance, and simplify the probate process. Being aware of the estate’s value will also help determine if it qualifies for certain “small estate” procedures that make it much less complicated to complete probate. Because the threshold varies by state, make sure you are asking a local probate attorney.
Consultations Are Often Free of Charge
Many attorneys offer free consultations for those visiting or calling them for the first time. If you are unsure of how to proceed with planning your estate, talking with a lawyer can give you a good idea of what to do next even if you ultimately decide not to hire a probate attorney. Although a wealth of legal information is available online, an expert in local probate law will be able to steer you towards the best course of action for your area. In many cases, one free consultation can be an invaluable resource as you start the estate planning journey.
Planning your estate is a serious undertaking, but you don’t have to do it alone. Contact the law offices of trusted Queens probate lawyer Richard Cary Spivack to set up a consultation and start the process with peace of mind.