In the wake of someone’s death, your first order of business is to make sure that the deceased’s estate goes to those who are intended to receive it. Most people leave their assets in their will, but if they die without one, they have to go through probate court to distribute it according to state law. Some people hire a probate attorney as soon as they learn of an upcoming probate case, but there are some things you should consider before taking this step. Here are five things you should keep in mind before hiring a probate attorney.
1) How much will your estate be worth?
Before you start the process of hiring a probate attorney, you should have a good understanding of how much your estate will be worth. This will help you determine how much money you need to spend on legal fees and whether or not it’s worth it to hire an attorney.
2) What kind of property are we talking about?
If the property in question is real estate, then the first thing you need to do is get an appraisal. The reason for this is that real estate can be very difficult to value and if there is any dispute among the heirs, you will want to have a professional valuation that can be used as evidence in court. If the property is personal property, such as jewelry or art, then you will need to get appraisals for those items as well.
3) What kind of documents do I need for my will?
Before you can even begin to think about hiring a probate attorney, you need to have your documents in order. This includes your will, which should be clearly written and up-to-date.
If you don’t have a will, your estate will be distributed according to the laws of your state, which may not be how you want it. In addition to your will, you should also have a list of your assets and debts, as well as any other important documents related to your estate.
4) Have I applied for any government benefits?
The first thing you should do when considering hiring a probate attorney is to determine whether or not you are eligible for any government benefits. If you are, then these benefits can help offset the cost of the attorney’s fees. Additionally, if you are not eligible for government benefits, there are other ways to pay for the cost of a probate attorney. You can use assets from the estate, take out a loan, or set up a payment plan.
5) What kind of income tax returns have I filed?
The first thing you should consider before hiring a probate attorney is what kind of income tax returns you have filed. If you have filed joint returns, then your spouse will need to be involved in the process. If you have filed individual returns, then you will need to provide your Social Security number and date of birth. If you have not filed any tax returns, then you will need to provide proof of residency and citizenship.