The death of any loved one can be a traumatic time, but it can be made even more difficult for anyone who is called upon to serve as the executor of that loved one’s estate. Unfortunately, there is often little time for grieving when an estate needs to be settled, and the probate process often gets underway before executors even have a chance to come to terms with their loss. Whether you’re a named executor struggling with the thought of settling an estate or someone who’s worried that those executor responsibilities might be too much for a loved on to bear, professional probate services can often prove to be the ideal solution.
What Are Professional Probate Services?
Professional probate services are provided by probate attorneys with expertise in managing all the complex issues involved in the probate process. People who agree to serve as executors for a loved one’s estate often do so without fully understanding just how arduous the process can be. There are many tasks and duties that must be fulfilled by any executor, as the probate process unfolds. There are also expectations that many executors can struggle to meet – especially when other obligations compete for their time and attention. For example:
- Executors are charged with gathering a decedent’s property, securing those assets, and appraising their value. This can often be a difficult and time-consuming process – especially when the decedent failed to maintain any organized records.
- Executors have the responsibility of notifying creditors and beneficiaries about the death, and must review all creditor claims to verify their validity. They are also tasked with paying those valid claims, using the decedent’s assets.
- The decedent’s final federal and state income tax returns must be filed, and any taxes that are due must be paid. If estate taxes are due, those need to be paid as well.
- The executor must also maintain communication with the court, beneficiaries, and creditors. He or she is charged with representing the estate in any court actions taken against it, and must file a variety of reports and motions with the court throughout the process.
- Executors also assist the court with distributing the decedent’s assets, once all debts are paid.
- The executor also has a variety of specialized tasks that need to be accomplished – and many executors lack the specific skills needed to get those jobs done on their own. One example is the appraisal of assets that needs to be conducted. When estates have assets that are difficult to valuate, executors may need to call in professional appraisers. Accounting, tax preparation, and other specialized skills may also be needed.
It is almost impossible to overstate the amount of stress that many executors experience as they try to fulfill these duties while still meeting life’s other obligations. Professional probate services can often be an important component of estate administration, since experienced attorneys can perform many or all of these tasks and help to relieve executor stress.
How Can a Probate Attorney Help Me?
There can be many benefits to relying on a probate attorney for any estate settlement. Ultimately, the advantages you receive depend upon the type of services you need, and the amount of involvement in the process that want your attorney to have. For many executors, simple guidance and occasional assistance is all that is required to get through the estate settlement process. For others, it is often advantageous to have a professional represent them throughout probate, and handle virtually every aspect of the process.
Assistance for Testators
If you’re a testator, and want to avoid creating additional stress for your loved ones – or are simply unsure whether any of your closest friends or relatives are suited for the job, then professional services could be your best option. When you name an executor in your will, there is no requirement that it be a relative or friend. It is perfectly acceptable to name a law firm to serve in that capacity. In fact, that is often the wisest move that you can make, since it enables your estate to be managed and settled by a group of professionals with the experience and resources to get the job done with as little stress or worry as possible.
Assistance for Executors
If you’re an executor who’s already feeling the stress of those responsibilities, you might feel like there’s no way out of the anguish and confusion that you’re experiencing. However, that’s simply not the case. A probate attorney can help you to get that estate settled, while relieving you of much or even all of that stress. You can retain an attorney – at the estate’s expense – and rest assured that all of those important probate duties will be tended to in a professional manner. You also have the flexibility to get as little or as much assistance as you need. An experienced attorney can simply provide guidance throughout the process or can manage every detail.
Get the Help You Need!
The main thing to remember is that stress is something that can and should be avoided. Most people have no wish to create more stress or anxiety for those they leave behind in death. If you’re a testator, it’s often advisable to think about that potential stress when making out your will, and take steps to minimize it wherever possible. You can help your heirs by ensuring that your executor understands the merit of retaining a probate attorney to assist with the estate settlement process. If you’re an executor, you can save yourself from that stress and move quickly to get the help you need.
At Michigan attorneys Biddinger & Estelle, PC, our team can provide executors with the professional probate services they need to ensure that estates get settled with as little frustration and stress as possible. We can provide help on a limited basis, handling only those complex issues that executors might find too challenging to manage on their own, or we can provide detailed and broad-ranging assistance throughout the process. To learn how our probate services can make any estate settlement process a less-stressful experience, contact us online or call us today at (989) 872-5601.