Do I Need a Lawyer?
Some estates will require a lawyer, but in most cases the decision is up to you.
EstateExec is primarily designed to help estate executors administer and ultimately wind down a decedent's estate, paying off debts and making distributions to heirs. While EstateExec online software will greatly assist you with your executor responsibilities, you should be aware that:
- EstateExec is a productivity aid, and does not provide legal or tax advice (see below for service options)
- EstateExec is not intended to provide exhaustive coverage for all possible situations, or even the most common ones
- A few states require the services of an official agent or probate attorney (and EstateExec will tell you if it thinks you fall into that category)
Perhaps a good analogy would be that of using Quicken® to manage your household budget: Quicken can provide a nice structure, track your inflows and outflows, and generate reports, but ultimately it's up to you to make sure that your budget is right for you and that you follow it (let alone ensuring that you are complying with all relevant financial regulations and obligations, such as homeowner's dues, pet licenses, etc.).
Consequently, we recommend that you engage an appropriate probate attorney to help you with the process. A probate attorney won't/can't do everything for you, but he or she can be an invaluable resource, and often has contacts that can ease the process for you. You almost certainly need a lawyer if the estate is very large, the will is particularly complex, or there will likely be litigation.
Nevertheless, since a probate attorney will likely cost thousands of dollars, a number of people do choose to do it themselves, especially for smaller estates.
If you do hire a probate attorney, you will still need to use EstateExec (for tracking assets, debts, distributions, and so forth), and in fact EstateExec can make the cooperation between you and your attorney easier and more transparent. To continue our analogy, just because you hire a financial adviser doesn't mean you stop using Quicken.
EstateExec Service Options
EstateExec has arranged for experienced attorneys to file probate cases for EstateExec customers in select locations; availability and cost depend on location of the estate. See Probate Service for details on this optional service; you are also welcome to use your own attorney, or none at all.
If you only want answers to a couple of specific legal questions, you can work with our partners to get quick legal answers affordably.
Whatever you decide, EstateExec will be very helpful throughout your executor process.