Are You In Need Of A Probate Or Estate Lawyer?

If you're fixing to get an estate settled, you may need to hire a lawyer for help and advice on the next steps. The tricky question is which one do you need? 

What Is a Probate Lawyer?

A probate lawyer helps with the probate process in the event of death. They will help prove the validity of a will. A probate lawyer will also make sure the will was not signed while an individual was not in the right mindset (e.g., dementia, Alzheimer's, etc). 

What Is an Estate Lawyer? 

An estate lawyer, or estate planning attorney, helps an individual craft their will. The estate lawyer can, if you wish, also help you figure out what fees or taxes you will owe after death and set it up so it comes out of your estate to prevent burdening your family with that debt.

When Do You Need a Probate Lawyer?

A probate lawyer is not necessary to hire after the passing of a family member, but they definitely make things run smoother. If you need help with any of the following tasks, you may need to hire a probate lawyer:

  • Managing life insurance money
  • Advising on how to settle the debt the decedent, or deceased, left behind 
  • Securing all assets
  • Preparing and filing any required documents
  • Resolving tax issues

When Do You Need an Estate Lawyer?

Just as a probate lawyer, estate lawyers are also not always necessary. If you need help preparing for the following tasks, you may need to hire an estate lawyer:

  • Transferring out of state assets
  • Disinheriting family
  • Transferring foreign assets
  • Leaving assets to stepchildren
  • Creating a plan for a family member with special needs

How Are the Lawyers Paid?

When it comes to a probate lawyer, this will not be an out-of-pocket expense the family has to endure. Probate lawyers will be paid directly from the estate. They will typically offer an hourly rate or request a percentage of the gross value of the estate. 

Estate lawyers, or estate planning attornies, would typically be reimbursed for their services before the passing of the individual who hired them. This cost generally would also not fall onto the family's shoulders. 

So What's the Difference Between the Two?

Their jobs are very similar, but when in doubt, remember this: a probate lawyer is someone the family deals with after the death occurs and an estate lawyer is someone an individual deals with when preparing for their death.