Estate planning incorporates appointing a trusted individual in a Kentucky testator’s will. In many cases, the executor is not an attorney and may be unfamiliar with managing and distributing an estate. A probate attorney can help executors discharge their duties, speed the processing of the estate and manage pressure from heirs and family members.
Probate vs. estate planning attorneys
While probate attorneys are sometimes called “estate attorneys,” their work differs from that of an estate planning attorney. An estate planning attorney advises individuals and families in planning for what will happen to their assets and dependents after they die.
A probate attorney works with an estate’s executor to ensure that the executor can carry out his or her responsibilities quickly, effectively, and in compliance with the law.
An executor’s role
An executor is responsible for the management of a deceased person’s estate and must complete several tasks, including:
- Finding the deceased’s assets and debts.
- Notifying Social Security and creditors of the death.
- Paying all debts and filing a final tax return.
- Distributing and selling assets following terms set in the will.
Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, these tasks can take months, even years, to complete. The executor might also face considerable pressure from family members and friends of the deceased, particularly if they are unhappy with the terms of the will. Since many executors only take on these responsibilities once, it’s easy to overlook important details.
Executors who fail to complete necessary tasks or who attract the ire of someone close to the deceased may find themselves targeted by legal action. This can cause significant stress.
Advantages of hiring a probate attorney
A probate attorney can assist executors in making sure that they take all steps necessary in distributing and closing an estate. These lawyers can provide a buffer between the executor and disgruntled heirs and others by adding authority to the executor’s decisions.