After a loved one dies, family members often have to deal with probate. This can be challenging as most of us don’t understand how probate works and how to get the best outcome.
For this reason, it is typically necessary to hire a probate attorney to help with the process and get you the results you need. If a loved one has died and you need assistance with the probate process, here is a brief run-down of what to expect and some questions you can ask potential attorneys to help you find the right one.
If you have questions or need help with probate, reach out to the experienced Ohio probate lawyers at Slater & Zurz. Our team knows the ins and outs of Ohio probate and can expertly assist you with any legal matter. Call (888) 534-4850 today to schedule a FREE consultation.
The Probate Process in Ohio
Probate is a process that takes place after someone dies, during which the validity of a will is determined, an executor or estate administrator is appointed, the decedent’s outstanding debt is settled, and any remaining assets are assessed and distributed to the rightful beneficiaries.
How long the process will take depends on whether the individual died intestate (without a will), whether someone is contesting the will and the size and complexity of the estate. Typically, the process can take from six months to a year for most estates. Because probate allows creditors six months to file a claim against the estate, the process cannot be completed in less than six months. Very complex cases can last up to two to three years.
When to Hire a Probate Lawyer
Probate can be a complicated and lengthy process, only made more so by the many variables that can arise. Therefore, when an estate needs to be settled, it is typically best to hire an experienced probate lawyer to assist with the process. They can help streamline the process and avoid the many pitfalls that can arise. Probate attorneys can also assist with:
- Paying outstanding debts
- Collecting life insurance proceeds
- Transferring real estate and other assets to the rightful beneficiary
- Resolving tax issues, such as income, federal estate, and estate tax return matters
- Preparing and filing all legal documents required by Ohio probate courts
Probate attorneys can also help in other estate-related matters, such as the following:
- The decedent died intestate
- The will was deemed invalid
- No executor was named in the will
- Beneficiaries were not named in the will
- Assets remain in the decedent’s name
- Some assets were not assigned to beneficiaries
Questions to Ask an Ohio Probate Attorney
Hiring a lawyer can be intimidating for many of us. But knowing the questions to ask a potential lawyer can help make the process easier. Below are some questions that can help ensure you hire the right lawyer for your probate needs.
- How long have you been practicing probate law?
As with any profession, it is always ideal to hire someone who has extensive experience. You will want to make sure that not only have they practiced law for many years but that they have significant experience in probate law.
- How does the probate process work?
Even if you have done your homework and know the ins and outs of the probate process, it is always good to ask a lawyer. Not only will it give you a good idea of what to expect, but it will also show the attorney is willing and able to take the time to explain the process.
- What documents will I need?
Although this is information you need to know, it is also a good way to confirm the attorney has a deep understanding of the probate process and is aware of all of the details associated with making the process go smoothly.
- Do you have experience with the probate court handling my matter?
When hiring a probate attorney, you will want one with experience handling these court cases. Although we often expect all lawyers to have courtroom experience, this is simply not the case. Many work hard to avoid having to go to court and, therefore, will either try to settle the matter before court or lack the experience and skills to be successful in the courtroom.
- How will we stay in touch, and how often?
Knowing how and how often they will communicate with you can help resolve future issues. In any legal matter, you want to be kept up-to-date and have quick access to answers. Based on what the potential attorney says, you will know whether their level of communication is in line with your expectations or if it might be a challenge to get a hold of them to have your questions and concerns answered.
- Will you be my primary point of contact?
All too often, clients meet with an attorney in their initial consultation, only to never hear from them again. You will want to find out if he or she will be the primary person handling your case or if you will be mostly dealing with someone else in their office, such as another lawyer or a legal assistant.
- What fees do you charge, and how and when will they need to be paid?
This is one of the essential questions to ask a potential lawyer. You don’t want to choose a lawyer based solely on their fees, but you do want a probate lawyer who charges reasonable fees and is up-front about what they charge. Ask whether they charge an hourly fee or a flat rate. If they charge an hourly fee, get an estimate of how many hours they feel will be necessary to resolve your case. Also, ask what the court or administrative fees will be so there are no surprises.
Consult with a Top Probate Lawyer in Ohio for FREE
If you would like to learn more about the probate process or need assistance settling a loved one’s estate, we encourage you to contact our team of probate attorneys at Slater & Zurz. We know that dealing with the loss of a loved one can be challenging on its own. But when you are left to deal with the matters of your loved one’s estate, it can become extremely overwhelming.
That is where our firm can help. Our Ohio probate lawyers can step in and help you manage the many steps of the probate process and resolve any issues as they arise.
To see the many ways we can help, contact us online or call (888) 534-4850 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We have offices across Ohio, including Akron, Canton, and Cleveland, to serve you and are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call now to get started.