What You Need to Know About Probate Lawyers
One of the things that makes the probate lawyers of Schwartz, Fang, and Keating, P.C. so successful is our honest disclosure of the probate process. Oftentimes people question whether or not it is necessary to hire a probate lawyer. These 3 questions will help you determine whether or not you can endure the probate process alone. The more questions you answer ‘no’, or are unsure of the answer, the less prepared you are to tackle the probate process alone.
1. Is the estate small enough to avoid paying state or federal estate taxes?
Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of all estates don’t end up owing a federal estate tax. While there is a chance (albeit, still small), that the estate may owe a separate state-level estate tax, even those where only real estate was owned. Two-fifths of US States impose an estate tax, and if the estate is large enough to be taxed, you’ll certainly need a probate attorney to help with the filing of an estate tax return at any level.
2. Does the estate have enough capital with which to pay off debts?
This question truly is as straightforward as it sounds. In an instance where the estate has enough money to pay off debts, or minimal debts, it won’t be difficult to determine which debts to pay (hint, the answer is all of them). That being said, if you believe there is not enough money within the estate to pay debts and estate/income taxes, make sure you don’t pay any of the bills until you speak with legal counsel- state law mandates priority to some creditors rather than others.
3. Is the family acting affably?
While will contests are generally rare, they can certainly occur if there is tension within the family. If one family member is speaking of suing over the estate, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. Probate lawsuits can destroy a family, as well as drain a lot of the funds from the estate. Speaking with a probate lawyer may help you avoid a gruesome court battle.