If you are an estate executor to the property of a deceased person, then your primary duty is to find the assets of the deceased person and manage them well until they are legally passed on to the rightful inheritors. You may have been appointed explicitly by the deceased in a will or presumed to be the executor by virtue of your relationship with the deceased and their rightful heirs. For instance, a wife is presumed to be the executor of her husband's property in a case where the husband did not expressly appoint one. For you to manage an estate well, you need the help of a probate lawyer. Here are a few things that you should know when dealing with them:
Full Representation (The Traditional Route)
Full representation refers to the conventional way of dealing with an estate management case. Here, you turn the case over to your probate lawyer and let them deal with the property issues based on their experience, expertise and knowledge. In this case, avail all paper work to your lawyer including tax returns, deeds and company share certificates. Full representation is ideal in situations where there is a dispute over the deceased's estate (or likelihood of one occurring). The probate lawyer's expertise is necessary in averting likely disputes and having them resolved amicably even without the intervention of the court in some cases.
Probate Lawyer as Coach
In some cases, you may decide to take on the estate management duties yourself. You can then hire a lawyer to give you limited help regarding the application of the law; an incidence referred to as unbundled services. Ideally, you should discuss with your probate lawyer and decide on what they should advice you beforehand, then put the agreement in writing. Examples include preparing and filing sworn affidavits. You can also agree on the charges of any extra services offered outside the scope of the unbundled service agreement. Using a probate as a coach is suitable in cases where the disposition of the property is straightforward with fill-in-the-blanks forms provided by the court.
Utmost Good Faith
Whether you are using the full representation or unbundled service alternative, you owe a fiduciary duty of utmost good faith to the probate lawyer you are dealing with. Basically, this means that you should present all facts of the deceased's property as you know them and honestly. Do not tamper with tax returns, income statements, deeds and other asset certificates for your personal gain or a specific beneficiary of the property. Violating your duty of utmost good faith can annul any agreement that you have with your probate lawyer.