Probate is the legal process involving the administration of a deceased person’s will or the estate of a deceased person without a will (known as dying intestate). Probate is carried out within a Probate Court and is the process in which:
- A will is declared valid or invalid;
- Property is transferred from the deceased to an heir or a beneficiary named in a will;
- An executor of an estate is given legal standing to handle the estate’s business;
- The liabilities and bills of the estate are paid;
- The assets of the estate are distributed.
Where does a probate attorney fit into the process? A probate attorney, also referred to as an estate attorney, can help prepare an estate plan that helps avoid probate, as the probate process can be costly and complex. They can also assist the executor, the person named as the estate’s administrator, with tasks that are faced in probate, such as:
- Preparing and filing probate forms and paperwork;
- Advising and assisting with the sale of the estate’s assets;
- Advising and assisting with the payment of the estate’s liabilities and bills;
- Requesting permission from the probate court for various actions as required under Colorado law;
- Obtain a taxpayer identification number for the estate and file the final tax return;
Some probate lawyers are also willing to be named as the executor of the will. In this case, they are paid a fee to oversee the distribution of assets. The fee for serving as the executor of a will is separate from the fee for preparing a will.
A probate lawyer can be hired by either a person making a will or those who are named within the will. The attorney will have an ethical duty to represent the wishes of his client to facilitate the probate process and act within the best interest of their client both before and during the probate process.