Estate administration can be a daunting task, particularly during a time of grief. It involves managing and distributing a deceased person’s assets according to their will, or if there’s no will, according to state law. While some may consider handling estate administration themselves, there are numerous advantages to hiring a skilled estate administration attorney. This article will explore 11 reasons why hiring an estate administration attorney can be beneficial.
1. Expert Guidance Through a Complex Process
Estate administration is a complicated legal procedure that involves various intricate tasks. These can include reading and interpreting the will, identifying the beneficiaries, and more. The process can be daunting for a layperson and errors can lead to legal repercussions. An estate administration attorney is skilled and experienced in these areas, ensuring that the process is carried out accurately, efficiently, and in accordance with the law.
2. Timely Probate Process
The probate process is often complex and time-consuming, and it requires meticulous attention to detail. Submitting the wrong documents or missing deadlines can lead to delays and potential legal complications. An estate administration attorney understands the intricacies of probate and has the knowledge to complete it promptly. The attorney knows which documents need to be filed, where to file them, and when they must be filed, ensuring the probate process runs smoothly and swiftly.
3. Resolution of Disputes
Disputes often arise during estate administration. These can be conflicts over the interpretation of the will, disagreements about the value of assets, or disputes among beneficiaries about the distribution of assets. These disagreements can escalate quickly, leading to familial discord and even litigation. An estate administration attorney can serve as a mediator in these situations, helping to resolve disputes amicably and fairly, potentially avoiding costly and emotionally draining court proceedings.
4. Assistance with Asset Valuation
Identifying and valuing the deceased’s assets is an essential part of estate administration. It’s crucial to get accurate valuations because they affect estate taxes and how assets are divided among beneficiaries. Valuing assets can be a complex task, especially if the estate includes diverse assets like real estate, business interests, stocks, or artwork. An estate administration attorney can assist in this process, utilizing their network of professional appraisers and their knowledge of asset valuation to ensure a fair and accurate assessment.
5. Dealing with Debts and Taxes
Upon a person’s death, their estate becomes responsible for any debts and taxes they owe. Creditors must be paid before any assets are distributed to beneficiaries. Also, state and federal estate taxes may apply, and these tax laws can be complex. An estate administration attorney has the necessary knowledge to advise the executor on settling debts and handling estate taxes correctly, reducing the risk of personal liability for the executor and potential legal challenges from creditors or tax agencies.
6. Legal Representation
If disagreements about the estate escalate to a legal dispute, the estate may need representation in court. This scenario may arise due to will contests, disputes among beneficiaries, or challenges from creditors. An estate administration attorney can provide valuable legal representation, presenting the facts of the case effectively, arguing persuasively, and working towards a favorable resolution for the estate.
7. Asset Protection
The period between the person’s death and the distribution of their assets can be lengthy, and during this time, the estate’s assets need to be protected. This protection can involve maintaining properties, managing investments to prevent losses, and insuring valuable assets. An estate administration attorney can provide advice on how best to protect these assets, ensuring they are preserved for distribution to the beneficiaries.
8. Compliance with Legal Obligations
The executor of an estate has several legal obligations, from notifying beneficiaries and potential creditors to submitting the deceased’s final tax returns. These obligations must be met within specific timelines and in the correct manner. Failure to fulfill these duties can result in personal liability for the executor and legal complications for the estate. An estate administration attorney can help ensure all legal obligations are met accurately and on time, providing valuable peace of mind.
9. Avoiding Errors
Estate administration involves many legal and financial details, and errors can be costly. Mistakes in interpreting the will, valuing assets, paying creditors, or distributing assets can lead to legal disputes, financial loss, and emotional distress for the beneficiaries. An estate administration attorney has the expertise to avoid these errors, ensuring that every aspect of the estate administration is handled accurately and efficiently.
10. Reducing Stress
Administering an estate is a significant responsibility that often comes at a time of grief. The stress of handling legal and financial matters while dealing with the loss of a loved one can be overwhelming. Hiring an estate administration attorney alleviates this stress, allowing the family to focus on supporting each other during a difficult time while knowing that the estate is being handled professionally and competently.
11. Ensuring Fair Distribution
The final step in estate administration is the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries. This distribution should be carried out in accordance with the deceased’s wishes, as expressed in their will, or in accordance with state law if there is no will. An estate administration attorney can ensure this distribution is fair and legal, preventing disputes among beneficiaries and providing peace of mind that the deceased’s final wishes have been respected.
The process of estate administration can be challenging and overwhelming. However, with the assistance of a skilled and experienced estate administration attorney, it becomes manageable. From offering expert guidance and ensuring compliance with legal obligations to resolving disputes and ensuring fair distribution, an attorney can provide invaluable support, making the process smoother, more efficient, and less stressful. The 11 reasons detailed above make a compelling case for why you should consider hiring an estate administration attorney.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.