Do I need an attorney to assist with probate?

by | Mar 6, 2020 | Probate

After losing a loved one, many people ask the question, “Do I need to hire an attorney?”That depends — do you know what needs to be done? Are you having problems transferring assets? If everything is in joint tenancy – meaning the survivor becomes the owner if the first spouse dies – then you probably do not need a lawyer. Just take the death certificate to the banks or other financial institutions and they will change the account to show only one owner.

Oftentimes though, after losing a loved one, a better question to ask would be, Should I hire an attorney?” How could you, as an executor or trustee, benefit by hiring an attorney? How would your family benefit?

5 Reasons to Hire an Attorney After a Loved One’s Passing

1. To get your thoughts together. Sometimes just getting started is overwhelming. Even just one meeting with an attorney is sometimes enough to set you off in the right direction.

2. To get legal help. Sometimes there needs to be court action through probate or addressing a legal dispute. In these cases, you do need an attorney, unless you want to wade into the complex legal system on your own.

3. To reduce stress. When someone passes, there is a lot of business to take care of. The grieving process can be exhausting and on top of that many things in your life will continue — paying bills, working, grocery shopping. Add to that the job of executing an estate which can mean paying more bills, filing taxes and securing property (among other things), and you may have more than you can handle on your own. Sure, you could take care of these things by yourself, but sometimes you may want to let someone else take care of them for you. At Edwards Group, we deal with banks, investments, life insurance companies and real estate questions everyday. We know how to maneuver through all the asset transfers. We understand what those companies need, how their forms need to be filled out, even how to get past a difficult customer service representative. We are here to help bear the burden. You don’t have to do it alone.

4. To get the job done right. Many people own annuities and IRA’s, and those are potential potholes for the family left behind. Many times we have seen families try to handle an estate on their own, only to end up paying tens of thousands of dollars in extra income tax that could have been avoided or delayed with good legal advice. That’s just one example. Many families find that the attorney’s fee pays for itself in avoided legal, financial or tax mess-ups that could haunt you later. Some people don’t realize that if you are the executor or trustee and you mess up something in the process, you could be responsible later to repay the lost funds.

5. To reduce conflict. Even the closest families will have a potential for conflict after losing a loved one. Grief combined with the stress of an unknown or unfamiliar situation often results in siblings butting heads. In those cases, an attorney who can help guide everyone through the process, and talk straight to family members who may have unreasonable expectations, is a big help.

If you have recently lost a loved one, please contact our Client Coordinator at 217-726-9200 or at to discuss your situation and see how we can help your family make this difficult time a little easier.

Download our free checklist: What To Do When a Loved One Dies