estate probate attorney

by Brennon Kutch 10 min read

An estate probate


Probate is the legal process whereby a will is "proved" in a court and accepted as a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased. The granting of probate is the first step in the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person's property under a will.

attorney helps administrators and executors close-out and settle estates. An estate probate attorney’s knowledge of the court system allows them to close and settle matters in the probate court without unneeded expenses and delays. Here are some of the things that an estate probate attorney does:

Full Answer

How do you choose a probate attorney?

A probate attorney is a state-licensed lawyer who can help the Executor of a Will (if one was appointed) or the beneficiaries of an estate get through probate as they work to settle an estate. Their services could typically include everything from finding and inventorying assets of the estate, to understanding and paying all the debts the estate may have, to distributing and …

How do I choose the best probate attorney?

A probate lawyer is an attorney who offers legal counsel and assistance to the personal representative or executor of an estate throughout the probate process. Probate is a complicated process that can take months to complete or even years in some cases.

How to prepare to meet with a probate attorney?

Probate & estate administration attorneys handle succession issues and can help you navigate court processes, payment of the deceased person's debts, distribution of property according to the will or estate plan, and probate litigation. Use FindLaw to hire a local probate & estate administration lawyer to ensure that the estate is administered and probated according to …

Can an estate probate attorney help you?

May 08, 2020 · A probate attorney usually handles the process of estate administration after a person dies. An estate planning attorney, on the other hand, works with living clients on how their client's estates should be administered. The attorney could do that by helping clients prepare trusts, wills, and other relevant documents.


What is probate lawyer?

Generally speaking, probate lawyers, also called estate or trust lawyers, help executors of the estate (or “administrators," if there is no will) manage the probate process. They also may help with estate planning, such as the drafting of wills or living trusts, give advice on powers of attorney, or even serve as an executor or administrator.

What does a probate attorney do?

A probate attorney usually handles the process of estate administration after a person dies. An estate planning attorney, on the other hand, works with living clients on how their client's estates should be administered. The attorney could do that by helping clients prepare trusts, wills, and other relevant documents.

What happens if you die with a will?

If an individual dies with a will, a probate lawyer may be hired to advise parties, such as the executor of the estate or a beneficiary, on various legal matters. For instance, an attorney may review the will to ensure the will wasn't signed or written under duress (or against the best interests of the individual).

What to do if someone dies without a will?

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help.

How is an estate distributed?

When this happens, your estate is distributed according to the intestacy laws of the state where the property resides, regardless of your wishes. For instance, if you are married, your surviving spouse receives all of your intestate property under many states' intestate laws.

Can you take your will with you when you die?

As the old saying goes, you can't take it with you when you die. But a probate lawyer can help surviving family members settle your debts and distribute your assets after you're gone, with or without a will. So what is a probate lawyer?

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Need help with a Probate & Estate Administration matter?

You've come to the right place. If you are the executor of an estate, a probate & estate administration attorney can help.

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Want to check lawyer discipline?

It is always a good idea to research your lawyer prior to hiring. Every state has a disciplinary organization that monitors attorneys, their licenses, and consumer complaints. By researching lawyer discipline you can:

Total Fees Charged by Estate Administration Lawyers

In our survey, more than a third of readers (34%) said that their lawyers received less than $2,500 in total for helping with estate administration. Total fees were between $2,500 and $5,000 for 20% of readers, while slightly more (23%) reported fees between $5,000 and $10,000.

How Lawyers Charge for Probate and Other Estate Administration Work

The total fees that estates paid for legal services were based on one of three types of fee arrangements charged by attorneys for probate and other estate administration work: hourly fees, flat fees, and fees based on a percentage of the estate’s value.

Free Consultation With Probate Lawyers

More than half (58%) of the probate attorneys in our national study reported that they offered free consultations. The typical time for these initial meetings was 30 minutes, though the overall average was higher (38 minutes).

How much does a probate lawyer charge?

Small town rates may be as low as $150/hour; in a city, a rate of less than $200/hour would be unusual. Big firms generally charge higher rates than sole practitioners or small firms, unless a small firm is made up solely of hot-shot specialists.

How long does a lawyer bill?

Many lawyers bill in minimum increments of six minutes (one-tenth of an hour). So, if your lawyer (or a legal assistant) spends two minutes on a phone call on behalf of the estate, you'll be billed for six minutes.

What Happens in Probate?

When an estate goes through the probate process, an executor or personal representative must notify heirs and creditors and take inventory of all assets of the estate. Only certain assets must be included in probate, and those must be included in the inventory.

How Probate Starts

The first step in probating an estate is to file a petition to open probate with the probate court. This is generally the county court where the decedent lived or had their property. Some states have a separate probate court, which handles only probate matters.

When Must an Estate Go Through Probate?

Not all estates will go through the probate process. Each state has a list of requirements that allow certain estates to avoid probate. In most cases, it has to do with the size or value of the estate. Some states require the estate to be only personal property with no real property included.

What Assets are Included in a Probate Estate?

Certain assets must be included in the probate process. For instance, all assets that are listed with the deceased person’s name only must be probated. Property owned by the decedent as a tenant in common will also go through probate.

What Assets Can be Excluded from a Probated Estate?

Not all assets owned by the decedent must go through probate. Certain assets may be exempt for various reasons. For instance, assets with a designated beneficiary would automatically go to that person and not be included in the inventory of the estate for probate.

How Small Estates Avoid Probate

Some estates in their entirety can avoid probate. Generally, their value must be under a certain dollar amount, which varies by state. Some states require that only one person will inherit while others require that there be no debt for the estate. Most states won’t allow estates that include real estate property to avoid probate.

Avoiding Probate Through a Revocable Living Trust

Not all estates must be probated even if they are too big to go through small estates administration. An estate that has been placed in a revocable living trust doesn’t need to go through the probate process. The beneficiary of the trust becomes the person who manages the estate and takes ownership of the assets.

What is Phinney Estate Law?

Phinney Estate Law is a small firm from Seattle that takes a holistic approach to the practice of law. Founded in 2007, it focuses on estate planning, probate, guardianship, and mediation, serving individuals and families throughout the metro area. Its values, the consideration of the person as a whole, are applied to all of its services. In probate matters, it strives to honor the decedent while supporting the beneficiaries and encouraging resolution should a dispute emerge.

What is Beck Law Firm?

The Somers, Tamblyn, Isenhour, Beck Law Firm practices family law, estate planning, and probate. Located in Seattle, the firm's attorneys represent individuals, couples, and families throughout the metro area. In matters relating to probate, the firm can advise if it is necessary and where to begin. Their services include the preparation and filing of court documents, exploring alternative options for accessing assets and bypassing the probate process, assisting in the transfer of assets, and providing tax advice.

Where is Beresford Booth located?

Located in Edmonds, Beresford Booth PLLC is a full-service law firm that also practices estate planning and probate. Founded in 1946, it represents families and individuals throughout the Seattle metro area and Pacific Northwest in the administration of probate matters. Its services include the filing of documents at court, guiding the executor through the complexities of formal, informal, or supervised proceedings, collecting and appraising the decedent's estate, and ensuring debts/taxes are paid before distributing the estate to all beneficiaries.

Who is the founder of Northwest Elder Law Group?

Northwest Elder Law Group PLLC is a Seattle-based law firm that handles probate-related matters. The firm's founder and probate attorney, Janet L. Smith, has served as a mediator in several probate disputes. Smith and his team of attorneys provide legal representation services to heirs and personal representatives. The legal team assists in trust administration and the probate process. Other legal areas of practice are estate planning, guardianship, and elder mediation.

What is NW Legacy Law?

NW Legacy Law is a Seattle-based estate planning, trust, and probate law firm with additional offices in Vancouver and Portland, serving individuals and families across the metro areas. Founded in 2014, the firm's attorneys help executors and beneficiaries navigate the complex journey of probate law. Typical services include preparing a list of the estate's assets, identifying and paying creditors, filing tax returns, and distributing the remaining assets in accordance with the decedent's instructions.

Where is Lisa Ellis?

Located in Seattle, Ellis Law practices probate, estate planning, and elder law throughout the state, as well as immigration law nationwide. Founded in 2013 by award-winning attorney, Lisa Ellis, a Millenium graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law, the practice provides probate services for small to medium-size estates. Ms. Ellis assists clients in opening probate proceedings, creating an inventory of the decedent's assets, ensuring the payment of outstanding debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining estate to beneficiaries.

Where is Foster Garvey PC?

Foster Garvey PC is the result of a 2019 merger between two well-established Pacific Northwest law firms. Located in Seattle, with additional offices across the U.S., the firm serves clients throughout the metro area. Its trust and estate division also handles probate, providing guidance and support for named representatives and beneficiaries in matters relating to a decedent's will, including the filing of documents, administering the collection and appraisal of the estate, ensuring all debts/taxes are paid, and honoring the will.