What Is a Probate, and Do I Need a Lawyer?

Probate The passing of a loved one is never an easy emotional process. This process can become even more challenging when legal matters need attention. One such legal matter is probate. Probate is the legal process where an estate is properly transferred to its beneficiaries. This process can seem overwhelming, especially while dealing with other proceedings related to your loved ones passing. Thankfully, the process can be expedited and streamlined with the help of a lawyer.

Understanding Probate

While having a lawyer is helpful, it’s also good to understand what probate is. As mentioned earlier, probate is the legal transfer of the estate to the proper beneficiaries. The estate includes all assets and property. In most cases, a legalized will is filed to the probate court, and each state has its own rules for the timeline of this process. The court then verifies the will and responsibility for all assets of the deceased will be passed to the executor.

The executor is usually a family member of the loved one. They are then also responsible for estimating the value of the estate and are responsible for paying off any taxes or debts owed by the estate. If there is no will, the estate is considered intestate. An intestate estate will follow the state’s guidelines for distributing the assets appropriately.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

You are not required by law to have an attorney to help you through the probate process. However, the probate process can become challenging and confusing. A lawyer may not be necessary for a very simple estate with a straightforward will. That being said, a more complex estate or an estate with existing debts will present a legal challenge. In this situation, it’s often best to let a professional help guide you through this process so you can focus on arrangements for your loved one and grieving.

Our team at McPhillips, Fitzgerald & Cullum LLP is experienced in probate law and can help take the legal burden off your shoulders. We believe that no one should have to be run through probate court and deal with the stresses of the legal system alone. If you’re in need of a probate lawyer who will be there to guide you, contact McPhillips, Fitzgerald & Cullum at 518.792.1174 for our Glen Falls, NY office, 305.751.8556 for our Miami Shores, FL, office, or 518.792.1174 for out Chestertown, NY office.


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