Can You Go Through the Probate Process Without an Attorney?
Your mother recently died and your father has been deceased for several years. As the oldest child, you have been named executor of the estate. The beneficiaries are you and your two younger siblings. Your mother has a will and since she lived with you, her main asset is just several thousand dollars in cash. Per the will, you and your siblings will each receive $1,000. Seems pretty straightforward, right? Does this mean you won’t have to hire a lawyer and go through the probate process?
Not necessarily. Each state has different laws and procedures when it comes to distribution of assets after one’s death. Florida has complicated estate laws. Unless the estate is very small and the executor is the sole beneficiary, you will likely have to go through the full estate process. Plus, you may need to hire a lawyer.
While many people think they can save some money with DIY probate, the process is not as easy as it seems. There are several situations in which you will definitely need to hire a lawyer to guide you through the estate administration.
It’s not uncommon for beneficiaries to fight over assets once a loved one is gone. This is especially true when the deceased has been married multiple times and has children from each marriage. There’s always someone who feels they aren’t being treated fairly. A lawyer can step in early and resolve conflicts.
Even in seemingly simple estate, it’s possible that you may need to go to court to resolve some issues. For example, one party may deem the will invalid. If the person had very few assets, they may be unable to pay their debts, so you may be getting harassed by creditors. These are situations in which having a lawyer on your side can come in handy.
In cases where significant assets or businesses are involved, contracts may apply. For example, if two siblings were each given half of their family’s restaurant, it’s possible that one sibling may not want to be part of the family business. If the other sibling is willing to buy out that person’s share of the business, then it’s best to have a contract involved. Any type of situation that involves a change in ownership from what was outlined in the will, trust or other estate planning document should be made legal with a contract. A probate lawyer can draft an enforceable contract that ensures that the business can continue to operate like before. A well-written contract can also help avoid issues down the line.
Seek Legal Help
Even if you think the estate is small and simple enough to be probated without professional legal assistance, the truth is that Florida’s estate laws are complicated. There are a lot of technicalities in place, so making a mistake is very easy.
Don’t ruin the probate process by trying to handle it on your own. Let Fort Lauderdale probate litigation lawyer Edward J. Jennings, P.A. guide you through the process so that assets can be distributed with little conflict. To schedule a consultation, call 954-764-4330 or fill out the online form.