When someone dies, you do not need to automatically hire a lawyer to help decide how to divvy up the deceased person's assets. Thus, you need to know what criteria to use to decide whether to hire a lawyer.
Common or Unusual Assets
One thing to look at is whether you are dividing up common assets such as a house, the balance in a bank account, and a life insurance policy. If such is the case, deciding who gets what percent of the combined estate should be fairly straightforward. On the other hand, if you are trying to decide what to do with a commercial property or business, family members may have a hard time deciding what to do with the assets. Thus, the more unusual the assets are, the more likely it is that you will need a lawyer.
The Financial Worth of Assets
If the deceased person's estate is small, then you may not even need to go to probate. Instead, the executor of the will can simply follow the instructions in the will for dividing assets. On the other hand, if you are dealing with a large estate, then you may have no legal choice except to take your case to probate court. If such is the case, then you should hire a lawyer. How large an estate has to be before you go to probate will vary from state to state, so you will need to check your local laws to help you determine your course of action.
Whether There Is a Will
If the deceased person leaves behind a will, the instructions for what to do with assets should be fairly straightforward. Thus, if there is a will, you likely do not need a lawyer, but if there is no will, you should at least consider having a lawyer. Also, if the will is confusing, you may still want to hire a lawyer.
Are Family Members Getting Along?
If there is no will or you have a confusing will, a second factor can determine whether you should hire a lawyer. If all family members are getting along, you may be able to come together and decide what to do with assets. On the other hand, if there is bad blood between family members, you may need a lawyer to help resolve differences of opinion about what to do with assets.
While the questions outlined above will help you know when a lawyer is not strictly required, you should still feel free to consult with and/or hire a lawyer if you are having a hard time understanding the probate process or if you run into unforeseen obstacles. Click here to learn more.