When a loved one passes away, most people will seek out an estate and probate attorney to help them easily go through the probate process. However, not everyone thinks to seek out a probate lawyer. A lot of people have friends or even family that practice law, and then they wonder can those lawyers represent them in the probate process? Does your probate lawyer need to be someone who specifically practices in the area of estate law?
The truth is that any lawyer that is licensed to practice law in the state where your loved one lived can represent you in the probate process. If your cousin is criminal defense attorney, then technically if they have a license to practice law, they can fit the bill. The question is not whether a lawyer that practices in another area of the law can represent you, but rather should they?
Think of it like this: If you need heart surgery, you wouldn’t want an orthopedic surgeon who is trained specifically to operate on feet to work on your heart. Certainly your orthopedic surgeon learned all about the heart and surgery in medical school, but they are not a practiced hand at heart surgery.
It is the same for lawyers that don’t practice estate law specifically. They likely know a bit about the probate process, or at least how the court process will work, but they don’t know all the specifics that a practiced probate lawyer would know.
Benefits of Choosing a Probate Attorney Over Any Other Attorney
If you simply need a lawyer to represent you in court and help make all that typically convoluted legal jargon a little easier to digest, then any lawyer will do. However, there are quite a few perks to choosing a probate lawyer over a family member or friend that is practiced in another area of the law. So why choose a probate lawyer specifically over someone you might know better?
Probate Lawyers Prevent Personal Liability
As an executor, it falls to you to make certain decisions. However, if you make errors or act before you have the court’s permission to do so, then it can make you personally liable. By having a probate lawyer, they know exactly what you can and cannot do at any given moment. By advising you on your next step, they can help keep you from making what could be very costly errors as an executor.
Probate Lawyers Help With Tax and Trust
Sometimes it might be more apt to say that a probate lawyer is part-attorney and part-accountant. Often much of what a probate lawyer does is help with trust administration as well as making sure death and income taxes are filed smoothly. While any lawyer can be familiar with how the court functions, not every lawyer is so intuitive when it comes to taxes and trusts.
Probate Lawyers Have Dedicated Time
Choosing a friend or family member who is a lawyer may net you a discounted price, but you won’t get the same sort of dedication. When you pay someone to represent you, then you can expect to get a certain type of service. Maybe your friend or family lawyer has to get back to their actual job and can’t make a court date. You better believe that doesn’t happen with a probate lawyer.
Has a loved one in your family passed away and suddenly you find yourself in the executor seat? Don’t try to handle the process alone. Certainly any type of lawyer can help you out, but hiring a lawyer that specifically practices probate and estate law has myriad benefits for not only your loved one’s estate, but your own personal stress level. If you are looking for a probate lawyer to help handle an estate, contact us today.
Article provided by Gregory Port, M.B.A., J.D., founder of Port Legal, one of Ohio’s TOP Elder Law and Estate Planning law firms. Attorney Port is an experienced Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney and is a Member of the National ElderCare Matters Alliance. He and his law firm have a Featured Listing on ElderCareMatters.com – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources to help families plan for and deal with the Issues of Aging.
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