Many people spend a significant portion of their adult life generating wealth and acquiring physical assets. These items might benefit a person while he or she is living, but they can quickly become a source of contention among remaining family members once the individual passes away.
If you have recently lost a loved one, then you should stay aware of the many tasks that you must complete in order to release the individual's assets from probate effectively. Having the help of an experienced attorney can prove invaluable in dealing with the death of a loved one.
This guide lists four reasons you should consider hiring an attorney as you go through the probate process. This guide also explains how an attorney can help you successfully clear your loved one's estate.
1. Compile an Inventory
Before you can successfully clear your loved one's estate through probate, you must provide an accurate accounting of his or her assets. This process of conducting a complete inventory can be daunting, so it's best to leave the inventory process to a legal professional.
Your attorney will be able to create a comprehensive list of your loved one's assets, including accounts or properties that you might not even know about. The sooner you are able to compile an inventory, the sooner your loved one's estate can clear probate and be divided among surviving family members.
2. File Tax Returns
You must also prepare and file tax returns on behalf of both the deceased individual and his or her estate. The rules and regulations that govern the taxation of an estate can be challenging.
Making the choice to hire an attorney to handle the preparation and filing of tax returns for your loved one and his or her estate can help ease your burden following a loved one's death. Mistakes made during the preparation and filing of tax returns could leave an estate in probate, so it's best to leave these administrative tasks in the hands of a capable attorney.
3. Determine Solvency
When an individual passes away, his or her debts can often remain intact. Creditors must be repaid using funds from the estate before assets will be released from probate and made eligible for inheritance. If your loved one left behind assets of substantial value, then you may not be concerned about repaying creditors.
However, if your loved one left a modest estate behind, then an attorney can help you determine the solvency of the estate. Hiring an attorney to compare the actual value of your loved one's estate with the creditor claims will help you adhere to statutory guidelines regarding the handling of an insolvent estate.
4. Handle Disputes
Once all debts have been repaid, and the estate is ready to be released from probate, an attorney will help you avoid potential disputes among surviving family members. Arguments regarding the distribution of a deceased's assets can often lead to bitter legal battles.
By working with an attorney from the beginning of the probate process, you will be able to reduce the likelihood that you make errors when distributing assets. When you let an attorney handle asset distribution, they can also help create a buffer between family members, which may help defuse tension over time.
To really recognize the valuable services an attorney can provide as your loved one's estate moves through the probate process, hire legal services. Contact us at Clara Yang, Attorney at Law, for additional information on legal services that might benefit you as you handle the death of a loved one. We can help you through this difficult time — give us a call today to learn more.