Probate Attorneys

Written by Jared Vincenti
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A probate attorney is a lawyer who specializes in the distribution of an estate during probate. A probate lawyer must have a Juris Doctor degree, and must be in good standing with the state BAR association. Since work is by no means constant in the probate field, probate attorneys often offer other services.

What Probate Attorneys Do

When it comes to probate, an attorney will make sure that state probate laws are observed in the division of an estate. In the absence of a will, state laws govern how property is to be divided among heirs. If someone does not have an automatic claim on an estate--for example, an unwed companion of the deceased--he or she must make a probate claim in court. Anyone may make a probate claim, but any claims must be validated.

If a person dies in debt, a portion of his estate must be sold, and the proceeds used to settle outstanding debts. A will may specify in what order possessions should be sold, but if someone dies without a will, the matter must be settled in probate court. Each state has a set order in which possessions should be sold, and a probate attorney will ensure that property sales are settled in accordance with the wishes of the deceased or by state law.

Finally, probate attorneys usually offer other services. Most common among these services is writing and notarizing wills and living wills. A will is your statement of how your possessions are to be handled and inherited after your death. A living will is a document that contains your wishes for medical treatment should you ever be in a non-communicative state and in need of further medical care.


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