When an estate goes through the process of probate there are many details that need to be addressed, and just how complex the matter is depends on the specifics of the estate in question. The probate or surrogate court proceeding requires the filing of a great deal of standard paperwork, and making sure that this is done and done correctly is the first step.
There can also be matters of guardianship or conservatorship involving fiduciaries that need to be addressed. Any outstanding debt must be satisfied, and property may have to be appraised and possibly liquidated. Taxes must be paid, and should any aspect of the estate be challenged another layer of complexity is introduced.
There are instances when the deceased will name an executor or administrator of the estate in his or her will, often times a family member or trusted friend. This person is empowered to act in behalf of the estate, but he or she is going to need the guidance of a probate attorney due to the legal intricacies involved. In fact, probate lawyers sometimes take on the dual responsibility of attorney/executor for clients who would prefer to place the entire matter into the hands of an expert.
Probate attorneys often enter the picture early on as advisers that help people plan their estates, aiding in the drawing up of wills, the implementation of asset protections measures, and the execution of advance health care directives. These days people are living longer and in fact, senior citizens are the fastest growing segment of our society. As a response many probate lawyers are expanding their offerings to include wider ranging elder law services including Medicaid law advice, disability planning, and even long term financial planning to address future nursing home expenses.
It is important to be prepared for the realities that we all face as time marches on, and these include elder care issues as well as end-of-life planning. The best way to do so is with the help on an experienced probate attorney.