What is Wills & Probate Law? How to Find a Wills & Probate Lawyer

What is Will and Probate Law

What is Will and Probate Law?

Will and probate law is the law that governs wills and the distribution of property after someone dies. The process that the will goes through after the death of the testator is frequently referred to as probate. Most states require attorneys or executors to oversee the process, particularly if children are involved.

Governing Law

Each state has its own body of will and probate law. These laws vary between case law and code based law. In most states, they are actually a combination of the two. It is distinct from contract law, although it does correspond closely to many of the family law requirements of each state.

The will and probate law governs whether a will is valid or not. It also governs how property is to be distributed if the deceased dies without making a will. It outlines when a will can be invalidated and what happens if the will is invalidated. For example, when millionaires die, their assets are fought over by children, ex-spouses, trusted advisors, and sometimes butlers. Probate law decides who gets the property and how much of it. Even if you don't have a lot of money to distribute when you die, things like life insurance, homes, cars, and even debt must go to someone. Without a will, this is determined by statute, regardless of the equity of the situation.

Reasons for Hiring an Attorney

If a person dies without having made a will, the state distributes the deceased person's property according to the rules of probate. A person's closest family members will divide the property according to the probate rules. Putting a person's estate through probate, which is required unless the type of property is specifically exempt, is expensive and time-consuming. Creating a will bypasses the probate process, saving you and your family time and money. It also ensures that the property is disbursed in the way that you want it rather than how the government sees fit.

Even though a person can write a legally binding will without seeing an attorney, you should have the will reviewed by an attorney or law firm to make sure that all of your state's formalities have been met. An attorney may also be able to double check the will with a fresh pair of eyes. Looking at what the will says and checking to make sure it says what the person making the will wants it to say is always a good thing. An attorney should also keep a copy of the will to enact it at the right time.

Things to Look for in a Will and Probate Attorney

A will and probate law firm should be able to double check every detail of the will. He should not take anything for granted to make sure that the will gives everything to the people you want the stuff to go to. A probate attorney should also be good with people, and ideally skilled in conflict resolution as well. While wills and probate matters are not likely to result in out of court settlements, the situations involving them often become tense.

Because probate law overlaps with family law, having a will looked at by a lawyer with experience in family law matters is a great idea. Where minor children are involved, a family lawyer is highly recommended, possibly required in some states so that the lawyer can anticipate the likely difficulties and ensure that the will corresponds to state requirements. Applying all of the rules in family law requires a lawyer who keeps an eye on other possible issues. Then the lawyer can take steps to avoid the possible issues before they arise.

Will and Probate Law Articles:

Adapting Your Will: The purpose of wills and probate are to ensure the proper distribution of property after the owner passes away. It's important to prepare for the future, and through proper preparation of a will, you can help make sure that your family will be provided for...

Wills & Probate Blogs

  • Adapting Your Will

    The purpose of wills and probate are to ensure the proper distribution of property after the owner passes away. It’s important to prepare for the future, and through proper preparation of a will, you can help make sure that your family will be ...