When a loved one passes away, it’s an emotional time and if you’re an executor or administrator of someone’s estate there can also be a lot of paperwork and processes to deal with. It’s a good idea to meet with a probate lawyer to talk you through the probate process and you may even decide you want help to administer the estate. This is particularly true if the person’s will is particularly complex or even missing. This article will explain how to prepare your first meeting with a probate lawyer.
What is a Probate Lawyer?
Probate describes the process of administering a person’s estate after their death and ensures that their possessions and finances are properly dealt with. A probate lawyer can help family members to settle debts, ensure any taxes due are paid and distribute assets after the death of a loved one.
What to do Before the Meeting?
Before meeting with a probate lawyer, you will need to register the deceased person’s death at a register office. In England, this should be done within five days of the death.
If possible you should find out whether or not the person had a will and if so, try to establish where you can get a copy. If you already have access to the will, then it’s a good idea to check that you have up-to-date details (such as addresses and contact numbers) for any beneficiaries.
What to Bring to the Meeting?
Before your first meeting with your probate lawyer, it’s helpful to gather all the relevant paperwork so you can take it along with you.
- The death certificate.
- The last will and testament.
- Any financial documents you have access to, such as bank statements, outstanding bills and details of any pensions or life insurance for example.
- A list of the person’s assets, such as savings, property, vehicles, and personal possessions.
- The names and addresses of people that are named in the will.
- A list of questions or concerns that you have.
However, it’s important to know that aside from the death certificate, none of this is vital to have before your initial meeting with your probate lawyer. If you’re struggling to find or access the necessary information and paperwork, this is something that your probate lawyer can help with.
What to Expect From Your First Meeting?
When you meet with your probate lawyer for the first time, they will go through the deceased’s will in detail so that you understand what each clause involves. If there is no will, they will need to determine who the beneficiaries are, so you may need to provide details of the person’s family and background.
The probate lawyer will also need to determine the approximate size of the person’s estate to establish whether or not Inheritance Tax applies. If a Grant of Probate is required, they can explain this process. If you have decided you want help administering the estate, then your probate lawyer will also set out what their fees are for this and how they will assist you.