Probate Lawyer in Monroe, LA
If you need an experienced probate lawyer in Monroe, LA, Theus Law Offices is here for you. Our dedicated team of lawyers promises to provide care and compassion to you as you settle your loved one’s estate.
We’ve successfully litigated both simple and more complex probate proceedings throughout the entire state of Louisiana. Our legal expertise, communication skills, and ethical standards have earned us an AV Preeminent Peer Review and Client Champion Rating distinction from Martindale-Hubbell for the highest level of professional excellence.
Let our Monroe probate lawyers ensure your loved one’s estate is handled in the most efficient manner. Contact Theus Law Offices today to learn how we can help you in such a dire time.
What is a probate lawyer?
A probate lawyer guides the beneficiaries or the executor of the Will if one is appointed through administering the deceased’s estate. A probate lawyer can also serve as an estate planning lawyer by helping individuals set up an Estate Plan.
The probate process determines who will receive the deceased’s estate established by the Will. A probate lawyer’s job is to distribute the deceased’s assets and property to the intended beneficiaries and settle all outstanding debts.
At Theus Law Offices, we promise to walk you through the probate process by:
- Creating a clear, descriptive list identifying all of the estate assets and debts
- Handle all conflicting interests with intended beneficiaries in a professional manner
- Guide you with confidence in distributing assets and inheritances according to the deceased’s intent
- If you’ve lost a loved one, let our caring team of probate lawyers in Monroe, LA support you with their decades of experience.
What does a probate lawyer do?
The purpose of the probate court is to distribute the deceased’s estate according to his Will. To begin the process, one of our experienced probate lawyers will open the succession proceedings by filing the Will and supporting documents in the appropriate probate court.
In preparing for probate proceedings, one of our Monroe probate lawyers will look at the terms of the Will to prepare a detailed list of the deceased’s assets and debts.
Once the descriptive list of assets and property is created, our of probate lawyers will begin:
- Collecting the deceased’s life insurance proceeds
- Requesting appraisals for real property and valuations for business interests
- Managing the deceased’s checking account(s)
- Calculating and pay all bills, debts, income tax, and estate taxes
- Retitling property to the beneficiary’s name
- Selling or liquidating assets and property
- Distributing real and personal property to beneficiaries
At Theus Law Offices, our firm promises to advocate for you in a quick, efficient manner through open communication. Our legal team and support staff is here to help you in your time of need.
What makes a good probate lawyer?
A good probate lawyer has experience in working with cases like yours. You need an experienced probate lawyer who can efficiently distribute the estate as the deceased intended while sensitively handling the conflicting interests of the beneficiaries.
The larger the size of the probate estate, the more complexities that are bound to come up during the distribution process. A knowledgeable Monroe probate lawyer will help walk you through each step of the process, so you’re not burdened in such a trying time.
Let Theus Law Offices Help You Administer a Probate Estate
It’s essential to find a probate lawyer that specializes in Lousiana probate proceedings as their experience and knowledge will help you properly administer your loved one’s estate.
Important considerations during the consultation include, but are not limited to:
- The lawyer’s years of experience
- Outcomes of cases similar to yours
- Case fees and associated costs
- The typical length of the court proceedings
How Long Does a Probate Case Last?
Unfortunately, there is no set standard for how long a probate case lasts and can vary from client to client. For example, an estate with far fewer assets is going to take far less time than an estate that has many assets that need to be addressed and taken care of. Another issue that can prolong the case is if the will is contested which will cause delays.
Once the executor takes inventory and all the creditors have the opportunity to submit their claims, a typical timeframe is usually six months. In the case where there’s succession, this process will usually tack on another six months resulting in the entire case taking a year.
What is Succession and Do All States Have to Go Through It?
Succession is essentially the process of transferring ownership of an estate to those that should inherit it. In Lousiana, not all estates are required to go through the succession process which is why hiring a probate lawyer can help your estate avoid the succession process. Avoiding succession is possible under the following conditions:
- When all your assets are in a revocable trust living trust and/or have a named beneficiary, succession is almost never needed.
- Proper estate planning can prevent succession altogether.
- If a property is worth less than $75,000 then succession is not needed unless as there’s no one that contests the assets’ distribution.
Reasons Why a Will Might Be Contested
Unfortunately, as stated before it’s possible for heirs/beneficiaries to contest certain elements of a will or the entire document. Sometimes the motivation behind this may be due to feelings of jealousy such as believing they are entitled to more or certain assets or they may stem from legitimate concerns. Even in cases where the will is plainly set out and has been drafted/revised by an expert probate lawyer when dealing with multiple beneficiaries, it’s not uncommon for there to be some contention. Sometimes to resolve these potential issues a will may contain a clause that calls for mediation which is almost always a better solution than litigation.
Sometimes to prevent these potential problems, communicating with your beneficiaries prior or during the process of drafting the Will can go a long way. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they have any authority when it comes to drafting the document, but receiving feedback such as which assets should go to who when there are multiple heirs can be beneficial. If there is any contention, beneficiaries generally have three legal ways to contest a will:
- The person drafting the will was under another person’s influence such as being manipulated or forced to include a special provision or clause.
- The will doesn’t adhere to Lousiana law. Even a small oversight such as a will not being dated can result in contention issues.
- The maker of the will lacked the mental capacity. While this is exceedingly rare and is difficult for the other party to prove, evidence such as medical records and eyewitness testimonies can be used as proof.
Executor Doesn’t Want Responsibility
As a Monroe, LA probate lawyer families trust from Theus Law Offices explains, an executor for an estate has a fiduciary duty to act in the interests of the deceased. But if the executor does not want the responsibility, then the court may remove the executor and appoint another person to oversee probate and take care of assets. In some cases, an executor simply cannot fulfill their duties because of other life obligations, not because they are being negligent. However, there are times when beneficiaries or heirs take legal action against an executor for breaching their fiduciary duty, particularly if there was financial loss caused due to duties not being carried out how they should have been.
The Will Is Contested
A will may be contested if someone suspects that the will is not a true reflection of what the deceased’s wishes were. Someone who wants to contest a will needs to prove that the will should not be probated for one reason or another, such as the decedent writing the will under fraud, coercion, or conditions of duress. It is up to the person contesting a will to offer proof that the will is not valid. An executor for the estate, beneficiaries, or heirs can present evidence that contradicts the contestment, showing the will is an accurate depiction of the deceased’s wishes.
Assets Cannot Be Located
Let’s say there is a situation where assets that should be part of the estate probate process cannot be found. This can cause delays as the appointed executor of the estate attempts to locate the assets that will be transferred to new owners eventually. This issue can be prevented if the person creating their estate plan, will, or other documents provides instructions for where these assets can be found. Assets can be tangible or intangible items, such as vehicles, properties, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, patents, business ownership, sentimental items, collections, and more.
Creditors Making Steep Claims
During probate, creditors have the chance to come forward and make claims against an estate. Only valid claims will be paid from the estate, but it is up to the creditors to prove that they have a right to collect. The state may act as a creditor and try to gain funds from the estate as well. An executor must review the claims from creditors and decide which are authentic and which may not be. As you can imagine, this is an important and complicated task to handle, which is why many seek help from a Monroe probate lawyer before making any final conclusions about creditor claims.
Asset Transfer Delays
The settling of an estate may take upwards of a year or longer to finalize. During the settlement period, probate assets are commonly managed conservatively. It may take a month or longer for the court to grant permission to sell assets. This delay can prevent the executor from handling changes to sudden market conditions. Executors will have to act with responsibility and with care to minimize their risk of financial liability. Assets delays are likely to upset beneficiaries and heirs, who may be in great need of their inheritance. An executor will need to know how to navigate this situation with ease, and may recruit help from a Monroe probate lawyer to do so.
While contention cases might be rare the fact that they exist is all the more reason to have a probate lawyer who can make sure everything is done properly.
Our well-connected probate lawyers in Monroe, Louisiana, are ready to serve you. Call Theus Law Offices now at (855) 213 – 6400 for your free consultation.