estate lawyer what do they do

by Justus Mraz 8 min read

Here some things an estate planning attorney can help you do:

  • Prepare a last will and testament that's harder to contest after you die
  • Help you set up a testamentary trus t or living trust
  • Transfer assets into your trust and oversee trust administration
  • Appoint guardians for your children
  • Help with tax planning and wealth transfers
  • Make a plan for charitable giving

An estate lawyer is a legal professional who assists people in planning their affairs to ensure the administration of their estate goes smoothly. Estate lawyers ensure that a client has documented their wishes so that they may be carried out after their death, including through wills and trusts.

Full Answer

What are the duties of an estate attorney?

  • Superb analytical and negotiation skills. To translate this skill into a role we like to call this the chief operations officer combined with advocacy leader.
  • In fact, we were hired by an affordable housing grouprecently. ...
  • Excellent researcher. ...
  • Great communicator. ...
  • Stellar interpersonal skills and networking abilities. ...

How much does an estate lawyer cost?

Because of the variances, an estate lawyer may cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000. This amount may also depend on whether or not the cost includes a filing fee, which is set by the local court. Due to these factors, estate lawyer costs are unique to each individual and their situation.

What does a real estate attorney do?

What Does A Real Estate Attorney Do? Real estate attorneys know how to, and are legally authorized to, prepare and review documents and contracts related to the sale and purchase of a home. In some cases, a real estate attorney is also the person who’ll be in charge of your closing.3.

How do you find an estate planning lawyer?

With these tips, you can find an attorney who has your best interests in mind. Start your search with this helpful guide today. 1. Ask Your Inner Circle. There are over 169,941 estate lawyers and attorneys in the US. Here in Michigan, there are over 35,000! By using this guide, you can find the best estate planning attorney in your area with ease.


What is estate planning attorney?

Estate planning attorneys, also referred to as estate law attorneys or probate attorneys, are experienced and licensed law professionals with a thorough understanding of the state and federal laws that affect how your estate will be inventoried, valued, dispersed, and taxed after your death.

Can an estate planning attorney help with probate?

In fact, a good estate planning attorney may be able to help you avoid probate court altogether, but that largely depends on the type of assets in the deceased's estate and how they are legally allowed to be transferred.

What does a lawyer do in real estate?

Lawyers who specialize in real estate ensure that proper procedures are followed during the acquisition or sale of property. They also may be concerned with how a property is zoned for usage. Real estate law covers deeds, property taxes, estate planning, zoning, and titles.

What does a real estate attorney do?

A real estate attorney prepares or reviews all of the documents that are signed at the closing of a real estate purchase. The attorney is then present at the closing to represent the buyer's (or the seller's) interests. Real estate law is a matter for state and local jurisdictions.

What is closing on a property?

Closing is when the money is paid and the title is transferred. The attorney is there to ensure the transfer is legal, binding, and in the best interests of the client. During the purchase of a property, the real estate attorney and staff might prepare documents, write title insurance policies, complete title searches on the property, ...

What is real estate law?

Real estate law encompasses the purchase and sale of real property, meaning land and any structures on it. It also covers legal issues related to anything attached to the property or structures, such as appliances and fixtures.

How long does it take to become a real estate lawyer?

Qualifications. Like any lawyer, a real estate lawyer has earned a law degree, which typically takes three years of study for a full-time student. They have also passed the state bar exam administered by the state in which they practice. Training for real estate law may begin with elective courses and internships during law school, ...

Which states do not require real estate lawyers?

Four states—Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio— do not require real estate lawyers, however they are typically involved in transactions according to local custom and practice. 1. If you don't live in one of these states, it's up to you whether you want to hire an attorney.

Do you need a real estate attorney at closing?

Many states require a real estate attorney be present at closing. Even if your state does not require one, you might want a real estate attorney to be there for you. A real estate attorney will represent your interests at closing. They will review all paperwork in advance and advise on any problems or omissions with the documentation. 1.

What do estate lawyers need to know?

They must help their clients understand the law and how their estate planning impacts them. Finally, an estate lawyer must understand local court procedure. They must know how to prepare paperwork and where to file it when clients need to bring their cases to court .

Why do lawyers practice estate law?

Practicing estate law may allow a lawyer to sustain a solo practice or work as part of a large firm. Estate law may provide flexibility for an attorney to establish a lifestyle and a legal practice that suits their needs.

What is reactive law?

Some practice of law is simply reactive. For example, a criminal defense lawyer helps a client react when they’re facing a criminal charge. Likewise, most civil litigation cases involve a dispute over something that’s already occurred. Attorneys sometimes help their clients react to something that’s already occurred.

Why do people use trusts?

A client might use a trust in order to minimize estate taxes and minimize the hassles that can go along with estate distribution. In other cases, a trust is helpful to manage assets for a minor or a person with disabilities.

What does an attorney do?

Attorneys sometimes help their clients react to something that’s already occurred. Other times, attorneys help their clients plan for the future. For example, they help their clients create a contract or they advise their clients on what behavior complies with the law and avoids civil penalties. Estate law is both proactive and reactive.

What is an estate?

An estate is anything that makes up a person’s net worth. To determine a person’s estate, you add up their assets and deduct their debts. Real property like land can be part of a person’s estate. Personal property like household items and vehicles can also be part of an estate as well as bank accounts and other financial instruments.

What is a will?

A will is a document that states what a person wants to happen to their property when they die. Each person has the right to decide who to give their property to when they pass away. They must deduct their debts from the value of their estate before they can total up their remaining assets to give to the people they choose. The state law where the person lives says what the rules are for creating a will.

What is an estate lawyer?

An estate lawyer is trained in matters related to passing on your assets after you die, and planning for situations where you can no longer care for yourself. They are experts in wills, trusts, and your local probate process. Some estate lawyers may also have specialties, like planning the succession of a business.

How to leave assets to stepchild?

To leave assets to a stepchild, stepparent, or half-sibling, consider working with an estate lawyer. Most people could benefit from working with an estate planning attorney, but it may not be necessary (and you may not want to pay for it) in many situations. On the other hand, people in certain situations may need the help ...

Can you pass on your estate if you aren't survived?

This only happens if you aren’t survived by a spouse or child, but a solid estate plan will protect your assets and allow you to pass on as much of your estate as possible. If this is your situation, you may want to look for an estate lawyer who specializes in elder law. You want to set up an irrevocable trust .

Can you bequeath assets to someone who isn't a citizen?

You have foreign property or assets . You’re planning to bequeath assets to someone who isn’t a citizen . You could also run into issues if you plan to name an executor who isn't a legal U.S. resident. Certain tasks, like getting a tax ID to open an estate account, may not be possible for nonresidents.

Everything From Reviewing Contracts to Investigating Title

Dawn Papandrea is a credit card expert with 10+ years of experience covering credit cards, banking, and personal finance. Her reviews of credit cards and other financial products appear on The Balance and on personal finance sites elsewhere.

What Does a Real Estate Attorney Do?

Real estate attorneys are lawyers who specialize in real estate transactions including facilitating home sales, representing clients in property disputes and other litigation, and conducting investigations regarding a property’s liabilities and compliance. 1

When Should You Hire a Real Estate Attorney?

State laws vary regarding whether or not a real estate attorney must be involved in a real estate transaction, and in what way. In some states, there must be a real estate attorney physically present at the closing, while in others, attorneys must issue a title opinion. 2 Many states do not mandate that a real estate attorney be involved at all.

How To Find a Real Estate Attorney

Finding a real estate attorney shouldn’t be too difficult, but your goal should be to hire someone who is reasonably priced, has a strong reputation, and who makes themselves available to you when needed. Here’s a step-by-step guide to finding a real estate attorney.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Real estate attorney fees are part of your closing costs, and range widely depending on where you’re located. You may be charged by the hour, or in some cases, an attorney may charge you a flat fee. According to Thumbtack, which tracks real estate lawyer fee estimates, the average hourly rate is between $200 and $250 per hour.

What is the job of a probate attorney?

Obtaining appraisals for the decedent’s real property. Assisting in the payment of bills and debts. Preparing and filing all documents required by a probate court. Determining if any estate or inheritance taxes are due, and making sure those debts are satisfied. Resolving income tax issues.

What is probate lawyer?

What is a probate lawyer or probate attorney? A probate lawyer is a state licensed attorney who works with the executors and the beneficiaries of an estate to settle the affairs of the decedent. In some instances, probate can be avoided if all the decedent’s assets have been placed in a trust.

What happens to assets when a person passes away?

When a person passes away, their assets must be disbursed in a manner consistent with state laws and following the directions they put forth when they were alive, as stated in their will. A probate lawyer guides the executor of will or beneficiaries of an estate through the probate process: From identifying estate assets ...

What is the job of executor of estate?

An executor of estate is the person responsible for carrying out the deceased’s wishes as laid out in their will, such as distributing assets to beneficiaries. The executor also handles other tasks associated with closing out the deceased’s affairs, including paying off creditors, issuing notices of death and filing final tax returns.

Who do executors of estates need to hire?

Sometimes an executor of estate may need to hire a professional such as an accountant or attorney to assist with valuing and distributing certain assets, such as: Assets with disputed ownership. Business interests. Royalties. Out-of-state assets. Complex investments.

What are the consequences of a fiduciary duty?

Potential repercussions for violating fiduciary duty in executing an estate include being removed as executor, being sued, getting fined, and serving jail time. Mistakes made in good faith are less likely to have severe repercussions than ones made out of carelessness, negligence, or self-interest.

What should an executor do within the first week of the death?

Here’s what an executor should try to do within the first week of the death: Secure the home. Arrange care for any pets. Notify the state department of health of the death if a funeral home, crematorium, hospital, or nursing facility has not. Get multiple certified copies of the death certificate from the funeral home, crematorium, ...

Can an executor buy a deceased person's house?

For example, in selling off the estate’s assets, the executor cannot purchase the deceased’s residence for $100,000 when it is worth $300,000, a practice called self-dealing. If an executor sells property to themselves, it must be for fair market value.

Can a court override the choice of executor?

A court can override the deceased’s choice of estate executor, and may do so if that person is not of legal age, has a criminal history, has a substance abuse problem,or a mental disability. The court may not choose a new executor simply because a beneficiary is unhappy with the choice.

Who is the executor of a will?

If the deceased has a will, the will usually names a close relative, friend, accountant, attorney or financial institution to act as executor of the will. If the deceased wanted more than one person to handle their affairs—such as more than one child—they might name co-executors. The executor should have integrity and good judgment.


What Is An Estate?

  • An estate is anything that makes up a person’s net worth. To determine a person’s estate, you add up their assets and deduct their debts. Real property like land can be part of a person’s estate. Personal property like household items and vehicles can also be part of an estate as well as bank accounts and other financial instruments. If a person owns property in common with others, thei…
See more on

What Kinds of Law Makes Up Estate Law?

  • There are several different types of law that make up estate law. These types of law often intertwine. Estate law may involve any of the following types of law:
See more on

Estate Law Is Both Transactional and Litigation

  • Attorneys who practice estate law may practice transactional lawas well as litigation. When estate lawyers prepare documents and help clients plan for the future, they’re transactional lawyers. There are no court appearances involved in making a will or preparing a trust, for example. If there’s a will contest, an estate lawyer is a litigator. An e...
See more on

Estate Law Is Both Proactive and Reactive

  • Some practice of law is simply reactive. For example, a criminal defense lawyerhelps a client react when they’re facing a criminal charge. Likewise, most civil litigation cases involve a dispute over something that’s already occurred. Attorneys sometimes help their clients react to something that’s already occurred. Other times, attorneys help their clients plan for the future. For example, …
See more on

Estate Law Is Primarily State Law

  • Most estate law is state law. State laws determine what needs to be in a will in order to make it valid. There are federal estate taxes that may applyto an estate. Clients with multi-million dollar estates must be careful to structure their estates in a way that contemplates federal estate taxes. To properly serve clients, an attorney must know what state and federal laws apply to their client…
See more on

Who Practices Estate Law?

  • Estate lawyers live and work throughout the United States. People everywhere need estate planning. Many estate lawyers live and work in small towns. Others live in big cities. Lots of people who never otherwise seek legal services use attorneys to do their estate planning. For that reason, estate lawyers find success in every corner of the country. Many estate lawyers combin…
See more on

Why Become and Estate Lawyer?

  • Estate law can be a fulfilling area of law for many reasons. It can be rewarding to help clients plan for their future and take care of their families. For lawyers who enjoy writing and studying complex laws along with the occasional court appearance and litigation, estate law can provide a rewarding balance among varying types of law. Estate law can also provide a solid financial fou…
See more on

Helping Clients Plan For The Present and The Future

  • Estate law is a mixture of transactional law and litigation. Lawyers who practice estate law have a variety of skills including writing and interpersonal communication that they use to help their clients understand the law and create the best plan to meet their personal objectives. Estate lawyers help clients organize their personal affairs. Estate law helps clients reach their goals in …
See more on