Most people would prefer to avoid involving an lawyer in the affairs of their estate and their wills whenever possible. While you can certainly write out your own will and file it yourself, problems could ensue after you pass away. This is why probate lawyers are involved in the dispersal of many estates--to prevent the contesting of your will and what your heirs say is rightfully theirs. Still, you may have a few other questions about probate law and whether or not it is really necessary. Here are the answers.
Do You Really Need a Probate Lawyer?
That depends on two things: the size of your estate and the laws in your state that govern the dispersal of one's property after death. Some states stipulate that you absolutely have to have a probate lawyer involved. The dispersal of your estate will not occur unless a probate lawyer has been hired for these affairs. Other states require that you have a probate lawyer if your estate is of a significant size (hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars worth). If both of these requirements apply to you in the state in which you reside, you have to hire a probate lawyer to disperse property within the boundaries of the law.
What If You Will Everything to Your Only Living Heir?
If you only have one heir, that does simplify things immensely. Unfortunately, the laws in your state regarding a required probate lawyer still apply. Your one and only heir still has to wait until the will goes through probate court.
Do You Pay for the Probate Lawyer's Fees Upfront or Later Out of Your Estate?
You will have to secure the probate lawyer with a retainer. That is paid upfront when you hire your lawyer. If you do not "refill" the retainer account when the initial amount is gone, the lawyer can take his/her fees out of the estate after you are gone. This tends to complicate things for your heirs since they have to wait for the lawyer to push the will through probate court and make a formal request of probate court to get his/her fees paid out of the estate. You can make this time shorter and simpler by making sure your probate lawyer has adequate funds in his/her retainer account. Any excess in the retainer account not used by the lawyer is refunded to your heirs.
Contact a probate attorney like Leon J Teichner & Associates, P.C. if you have additional questions.