Why a Personal Representative Should Consider Hiring an Attorney

When people write their wills, they often name close friends or loved ones as the personal representative of their estate. As a result, many personal representatives often find themselves feeling overwhelmed and unqualified to handle such a significant responsibility. And while the personal representative is not obligated to hire an attorney, proceeding without one can make the process more difficult than it needs to be and result in costly mistakes. If you’ve been named as the personal representative of an estate, a Boca Raton probate attorney can provide you with invaluable guidance.  

A Boca Raton Probate Attorney Knows the Probate Process

The probate process can be complicated, especially when dealing with complex estates. An experienced attorney will know the law as well as the legal procedure for properly administering the estate. This can ultimately save you and the beneficiaries significant time, money, and hassle. 

You Can Take Advantage of Their Network

A practicing Boca Raton probate attorney regularly works with many different professionals in the probate space such as accountants, appraisers, and financial advisors. For personal representatives who do not have experience in administering an estate or any financial or business background, finding the professional advice you need in addition to fulfilling your responsibilities to the estate can seem overwhelming. An attorney can make referrals to whatever other professionals you may need. 

An Attorney Can Help Manage Disputes

Many personal representatives are friends or family members of the deceased. This can make your role incredibly awkward if a dispute arises. An experienced probate attorney can manage and resolve disputes over the estate before they result in costly litigation

Mistakes Can Result in Personal Liability

Administering an estate is a highly technical process and unintentional mistakes can be costly. Paying heirs the wrong amount, failing to pay creditors, failing to pay taxes, or making an accounting error could spark litigation that leads to personal liability. A Boca Raton probate attorney can ensure that the estate is properly administered, giving you some much-needed peace of mind. 

A Boca Raton Probate Lawyer Can Manage the Estate’s Creditors

With complex estates, one of the biggest challenges can be dealing with creditors. Some creditors will aggressively assert their claims, seeking amounts that they are not entitled to. Some creditors may not even be entitled to be paid from the proceeds of the estate. A knowledgeable probate attorney will be able to evaluate the creditors of the estate and pay their claims appropriately. 

Avoid Probate Delays By Hiring an Experienced Attorney

One of the most common questions our clients ask is how long they can expect the probate process to take. Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast answer to this question, but most estates can get through the probate process in six to nine months. Unfortunately, the process can sometimes take far longer, thanks to various obstacles you may encounter. Working with a Boca Raton probate attorney can help avoid or minimize these delays. 

Multiple Beneficiaries

Wills with more than two or three beneficiaries can take longer to get through the probate process. All beneficiaries are entitled to notice of the probate process under Florida law, which can be cumbersome if the personal representative has to locate distant relatives or other people with who the decedent perhaps lost contact.  

Conflicts and Will Disputes

Multiple beneficiaries also increase the chances of will disputes and probate conflicts. That said, will disputes can occur in any context, regardless of the number of beneficiaries. Conflicts and disputes can significantly delay the probate process, especially if litigation becomes necessary. While working with an experienced Boca Raton probate attorney can help manage these disputes and hopefully avoid litigation, sometimes litigation is the only option. If you find the possibility of disputes and other conflicts troubling, we recommend that you work with an estate planning professional to ensure your will and other estate documents are crystal clear. 

Estates That Need to File Tax Returns

Another source of considerable delay is if the estate has to file a federal estate tax return. The probate process cannot be completed until the tax return has been reviewed and approved by the IRS, adding several months to the process. 

Unusual Assets

Estates that have unique assets can also take longer to make their way through the probate process. This is because it can be challenging to determine the value of the assets. Many of these assets are to be sold as part of probate. Finding someone who can appraise the asset and then find a potential buyer can add a considerable amount of time to the probate process. 

Speak with Ellis Law Group for Probate Guidance Today

Serving as the personal representative of an estate can be incredibly challenging and demand a great deal of your time and attention. A Boca Raton probate attorney from Ellis Law Group can help you navigate the probate process. Call us at 561-910-7500 or contact us online to schedule an appointment to discuss your case and how we can be of service.

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