When a loved one names you as the administrator of their estate, it’s a sign that they trust you and believe you’ll carry out their wishes. Unfortunately, even the best administrators can find themselves overwhelmed by the probate process. The probate process comes with its own set of rules and regulations to follow, some of which aren’t always easy to understand.
In many cases, hiring a probate attorney can help relieve some of the anxiety and ensure your loved one’s estate is handled the way they intended. Here are some questions to ask yourself to decide if you need a probate attorney’s help:
- How large is the estate? In Wisconsin, if the estate is worth less than $50,000, there are simplified probate options available. While $50,000 sounds like a lot of money, most estates are worth more than that. Large estates will have to deal with estate taxes.
- Are there creditor issues? If an estate can’t pay all creditors or if you expect a creditor to cause problems, talk to an expert. Remember: some creditors will have priority over others.
- Are there family issues? While rare, contested wills are difficult and expensive to deal with. If you expect a fight, consult an attorney ahead of time to limit the financial and emotional fallout.
- Is there a business involved? Managing, valuing and transferring a business are extremely complicated and shouldn’t be done on your own.
- Are there other “special” assets? If the estate has assets that are unique (such as rental or commercial property), these should also be managed, valued and transferred with the help of professionals.
Serving as administrator of an estate is an important job. While it can be tempting to go it alone, sometimes asking for help is the best thing you can do to ensure your loved one’s wishes are met.