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No, will - do we need an estate attorney?

My dad died without a will, there are three of us grown kids and we have all agreed to split everything evenly. Do we need an attorney and does each child need their own attorney?
Status: Open    Jan 13, 2016 - 02:46 AM

Elder Law

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Jan 19, 2016 - 10:22 AM

My condolence on the loss of your father. You do not provide enough information for a good answer. If there is no real estate, all the bank accounts had a Pay On Death provision, all insurance had a beneficiary, he was not owed any money and all three agree then no attorney or probate action will be needed (probably). If all three agree there is no need for each to have an attorney. If he was due money, refund on pre-paid insurance, return of deposits, etc. it will probably be necessary to do some type of estate administration to receive that money. If he owned real estate an estate administration will likely be required.

Jan 19, 2016 - 10:51 AM

One of you will have to be appointed by the clerk of court to file the final papers for your father's estate. Based on your fathers' estate, you may or may not need an attorney to assist with this filing.

Jan 19, 2016 - 10:57 AM

If your dad left any assets in just his name with no beneficiary, you will need to administer his estate through the Probate Court. In some states you can do that without a lawyer.

Jan 19, 2016 - 11:28 AM

With or without a will, I think it is good to consult with an estate attorney even just to ensure you are on the right path and do not make any mistakes. One attorney for all is enough unless there are some adversarial situations.

Jan 19, 2016 - 12:49 PM

When there is no will having an estate attorney may be even more important. There are special default rules that need to be followed in intestate (meaning "no Will") estates. A lot depends on how the assets were titled at your father's death. The ownership structure will determine how complex any estate administration will be. I would recommend seeing if you can set up a consultation with an estate attorney to determine what your next steps should be. It would be helpful to bring a list of all assets and how they were titled at his death. For example, if he owned a home, a copy of the deed would be helpful. One attorney can represent the estate and typically each child does not have their own attorney. However, if a dispute arose or if a child needed specific legal advice as to their share of the estate, they would need to get their own attorney.
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