The death of a loved one can be an emotionally challenging time for families. Aside from grief, they must also deal with a number of necessary but intimidating legal steps and processes that need to be completed. A qualified probate attorney is an invaluable asset for helping family members navigate this process. Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s heirs receive their assets and ensures that the deceased person’s outstanding debts and taxes are paid using funds from the estate. This can be a lengthy and court-process intense process, so having an experienced Chicago probate attorney on your side is essential. A probate attorney will help you file any required documents, work with creditors and taxing authorities, account for all assets received and paid, pay taxes and approved debts and finally distribute the remaining estate to heirs. They will also help you find and secure appraisals on jewelry, real property, and any other personal belongings. Additionally, the lawyer will ensure that bank accounts are closed, security boxes are cleared out, and all items are sold or distributed appropriately. The duties of a probate lawyer are not limited to just these tasks; they can also be hired to represent a party in any legal disputes that may arise in relation to the estate. For example, if a beneficiary believes that the will was not valid or that they were left out of it altogether, the probate lawyer will defend their rights to inherit. The same goes for any cases involving allegations of financial abuse of elderly individuals, breach of fiduciary duty, and contested guardianship arrangements. While you can find probate attorneys through online searches, recommendations from friends and family, or by scanning your local newspaper, it is best to schedule an initial consultation before hiring anyone. This will allow you to determine if they are the right fit for your needs and will enable you to ask any questions that you may have. When choosing a probate attorney, make sure they are licensed to practice law in your state. Licensed lawyers are held to high ethical standards and have undergone extensive education and training. It is important to avoid so-called “fake” probate attorneys who try to scam potential clients. These are typically individuals who have only taken a few online law classes and try to pass themselves off as legitimate professionals. You can minimize the need to go through probate by naming beneficiaries on bank accounts, retirement and life insurance policies, and other assets. Alternatively, you can move some or all of your assets to living trusts while you are alive so they can bypass the probate process and pass directly to your beneficiaries upon your death. A good Probate Attorney in Chicago Illinois will have many years of experience dealing with these matters. If you have any questions about what is the best course of action for your specific situation, contact Davis & Associates to speak with a licensed attorney for a low monthly fee.