More often than not, when you look for information about how an executor of an estate should handle selling inherited property, the first thing you’ll typically read or hear is that they need to hire a probate lawyer. While this is not necessarily the worst idea in the world, it isn’t always necessary for an executor to get professional help of this nature.
Believe it or not, there will be certain cases where a probate lawyer isn’t required. So, to avoid spending money for an attorney unnecessarily, you need to consider the information we’re about to share below. Because avoiding hiring a lawyer for advice or handling probate court proceedings is definitely a good thing if it’s going to keep more cash in your pocket and the pockets of all other beneficiaries involved.
You need to take a moment to ask yourself certain questions to determine if a probate lawyer is needed or not. We will share these questions and other information with you below.
Does the Estate in Question Qualify As a “Small Estate” Procedure in the State of Residence?
In some situations, no probate at all is going to be required. The next best option is to determine if the estate falls under the small estate procedures rules and guidelines.
What does this entail?
In the wide majority of states, a summary probate can often take place which happens entirely outside of the court system. You’ll need to present a sworn affidavit to the institution or person currently holding the asset. If this is the case, then you can avoid a difficult and more drawn out procedure altogether, which is obviously a good thing because it will prevent the need to hire a probate lawyer to help you with the proceedings.
Just know that each state will have its own rules and regulations about estates and whether or not they fall under simplified procedures. So look into this further in your state to determine if the inherited property meets small estate procedure rules and guidelines.
Is the Probate Process in Your State a Simple One?
Again, whether or not you need to hire a probate lawyer comes down to the particular state in question. If the probate laws are straightforward and easy to understand in your state and require minimal court supervision, then hiring a probate lawyer seems unnecessary and even fiscally irresponsible.
Not every state is going to have simplified UPC procedures that are completely straightforward and easy to understand. So you definitely need to learn about non-UPC states and UPC states and determine which group you fall in. This could be the difference between hiring a probate lawyer and avoiding one altogether.
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Is Anyone Going to Contest the Will?
If it seems like all family members are getting along and everyone is on the same page, it’s highly unlikely that anyone is going to contest the will. In fact, it’s very rare for wills to be contested, but it does happen from time to time so you have to take this into consideration.
If for some reason a family member seems like they might contest the will and they begin making noise and creating problems about the estate, you definitely need to contact a probate lawyer in this situation. There are many situations when a probate lawsuit is known to completely tear a family apart. These lawsuits can also cost lots of money that the estate will end up paying out, which is a potentially huge problem and one you would much rather avoid. Hiring a lawyer could prevent a needlessly costly court battle, so keep that in mind.
Are There Other Common Assets in the Estate?
By common assets, we mean bank and brokerage accounts, household goods, vehicles, and property. In some situations, selling off these assets and fairly distributing the proceeds can become difficult if not outright complicated.
As an example, one person entitled to proceeds from the estate may want one of the vehicles, whereas somebody else may prefer to have everything sold and have everyone split the money. If businesses and commercial real estate are involved, these situations necessitate special handling and will require the legal expertise of a probate lawyer.
Remember, not everything is always going to be cut and dry. In some situations, a probate lawyer will be absolutely necessary and 100% valuable to the situation at hand.
Obviously, avoiding hiring an expensive probate lawyer is certainly smart if it’s legally conceivable to get away with it. In other cases, a probate lawyer is just what the doctor ordered, so understand your situation and choose your battles wisely.