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  • Writer's pictureSarah Morris Ocampo

Can I Do Probate Without a Lawyer?

Updated: May 15

Probate is a legal process that follows the passing of an individual, where their assets are gathered, debts are paid off, and the remaining property is distributed to beneficiaries. The question of whether you can do probate without a lawyer is one that often arises. In this blog post, we explore the possibility of handling probate independently and provide valuable information to help you make an informed decision.

Is it possible to do probate without a lawyer?

The short answer is that it is not recommended in most instances. It is possible to do probate without a lawyer. However, it's essential to consider the complexity of the estate and the legal expertise required to navigate the probate process effectively.

When is it recommended to do probate without a lawyer?

Probate without a lawyer is generally recommended in cases where the estate value is under $25,000 and doesn't include any real estate. In such instances, the process can be less complicated, and you can handle it with the help of readily available resources and documents. In fact, technically speaking, you do not need to go to court when the estate is under $25,000.

Handling probate on your own:

If there is no real estate involved and the estate value falls under the $25,000 threshold, you can often complete the probate process independently. Depending on your jurisdiction, you may need to file a simplified petition, an affidavit of entitlement, or a small estate affidavit. These documents typically require information about the estate, its beneficiaries, and any outstanding debts.

When to seek professional assistance:

For someone in need of legal assistance, probate can often be an intimidating procedure due to its many legal nuances and requirements. It becomes necessary to seek a probate attorney's assistance if:

1. Real estate assets are involved in the estate: certain documents, including deeds, are needed to transfer real estate ownership and frequently require expert assistance.

2. The estate is worth more than $25,000. This means that there is a greater chance of complicated legal problems the higher the estate value. A lawyer can guide you through these difficulties and make sure that all legal requirements are met.

3. Conflicts or challenges: Having legal representation is essential to safeguard your rights in the event that disputes or problems occur between beneficiaries or if there is a challenge to the validity of the will.

While it is possible to do probate without a lawyer under specific circumstances, it's essential to approach the process with caution and understand the complexities involved. If the estate is worth less than $25,000 and does not include real estate, you can utilize resources such as the affidavit of entitlement to complete the probate process on your own. However, for more complex estates or situations, seeking the guidance of a probate attorney is strongly advised to ensure a smooth and legally compliant process. Remember to consult your jurisdiction's laws and regulations and consider seeking professional assistance if needed.

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