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What Is The Difference Between A Probate Lawyer And An Estate Planning Lawyer?


Two primary types of lawyers handle matters concerning estate law: probate lawyers and estate planning lawyers. While these two types of lawyers handle matters concerning estate law, they do not perform the same job. To understand the difference between estate planning lawyers and probate lawyers, think about them in “before” and “after” terms. Estate planning lawyers are hired before death or incapacity occurs, whereas probate lawyers are hired after death has occurred.

Below is more on the difference between a probate lawyer and an estate planning lawyer.

Estate Planning Lawyers

The work of estate planning lawyers is to help their clients plan their affairs. An estate planning lawyer’s job is to help their clients make a plan for their assets in the aftermath of their death. Any adult, regardless of age or the amount of wealth they have, can benefit from hiring the services of an estate planning lawyer.

One role of estate planning lawyers is helping their clients draft Wills. An estate planning lawyer can help ensure that a testator’s (the person writing the Will) wishes are documented clearly in their Will. Estate planning lawyers guide testators through the entire process of drafting a Will. They ensure that their clients understand the legalities of a Will and what should be contained in a Will.

Estate planning lawyers also help their clients make a plan for what happens if they become incapacitated or unable to make decisions on their own. For example, an estate planning lawyer can help draft a Living Will, which is a document that includes instructions for medical care and names the person to receive power of attorney.

Probate Lawyers

Even though probate lawyers can advise testators about the terms of their Will, they are usually needed after a person dies.

Usually, the duties of a probate lawyer will depend on whether or not there is a Will.

When There Is a Will

If a decedent leaves behind a Will, a probate lawyer will review the document to ensure it is legitimate. The official proving of the validity of a Will is known as “probate.”

After a probate attorney proves the validity of a decedent’s Will, they distribute assets to beneficiaries as per the decedent’s wishes laid down in the Will.

When There Is No Will

The process can get complicated if a decedent does not leave behind a Will. A situation where a person dies and leaves behind no Will is called an “intestate” death. If a decedent leaves behind no Will, their assets are distributed as per the state’s intestate succession laws.

When there is no Will, a probate attorney makes sure that all the decedent’s assets go to the correct heirs.

Some probate lawyers also practice probate litigation. Probate litigation lawyers represent their clients in contested probate proceedings to resolve disputes. Probate litigation lawyers help, among others, beneficiaries, executors, and heirs to navigate the complex probate litigation process.

Contact The Probate Guy

If you need help with any probate-related matter, contact the skilled and dedicated California probate attorney, Robert L. Cohen – The Probate Guy – today to schedule a free telephonic consultation.


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