An estate lawyer is an attorney who, through years of mentoring, continuing legal education and experience, understands how to advise Personal Representatives/Executors and estate beneficiaries on settling all of the affairs of a deceased person.
What Does an Estate Lawyer Do?
An estate lawyer, also called a probate lawyer or attorney, is responsible for taking a Personal Representative/Executor through the entire probate process. An estate lawyer can also be hired to advise the beneficiary of an estate on legal and other matters presented to the beneficiary by the Personal Representative/Executor.
Advising and Assisting the Personal Representative/Executor
When representing a Personal Representative/Executor, the estate lawyer will assist with the following:
- Locating and securing both probate and non probate assets
- Obtaining date of death values and appraisals of all of the decedent's property
- Collecting life insurance proceeds
- Rolling over and making appropriate elections with regard to retirement plans, including IRAs and 401(k)s
- Advising on the payment of the decedent's final bills and outstanding debts
- Keeping track of the estate checking account
- Determining if any estate and gift taxes will be due and, if so, then figuring out where the cash will come from to pay the taxes
- Addressing income tax issues
- Settling disputes among Personal Representatives/Executors and beneficiaries
- Assisting with the sale of estate property
- Requesting court permission for various actions as required by applicable state probate laws
- Retitling the decedent's assets into the names of the estate beneficiaries
- Preparing and filing all documents required by the probate court in a timely manner
How to Settle an Estate