What Does an Inheritance Lawyer Do?

An inheritance lawyer, also known as a probate or estate lawyer, is a state-licensed attorney who helps personal representatives and heirs of estates handle the estate of a deceased person. An inheritance lawyer can be involved in various capacities based on the specific details of an estate. 

A probate lawyer’s role in settling an estate often depends on whether the deceased person left a last will and testament that disposes of their assets. If the decedent did have a will, a probate lawyer might help the personal representative collect and distribute assets. If there is no will, a lawyer can help heirs file a proceeding to receive their inheritance.

However, for estates where there are disputes over the validity of the will or other litigation may be necessary, it is essential that you work with an attorney who focuses their practice on probate litigation. Many probate lawyers are transactional attorneys, which means they spend most of their time drafting and executing legal documents. Most have little to no experience litigating disputes. 

An entirely different skill set is needed to successfully litigate inheritance issues. So if you are involved in a contested estate, make sure the attorney you choose has ample experience handling those kinds of cases.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Inheritance?

In situations where an individual dies without a will, there is no statute of limitation on when an heirship proceeding can be initiated to determine the decedent’s heirs and distribute property. If there is a will, generally, an interested party must file a will for probate within four years after the decedent passes away. 

How Long Does a Beneficiary Have To Contest a Will?

In Texas, a beneficiary has two years from the date the order is signed admitting the will to probate to contest a will. The clock does not start when the decedent passes away or when the will is filed to probate. The statute of limitations only begins to run after a hearing is held, and a judge signs the order admitting the will to probate.

However, this does not mean that you must wait until a will has been admitted to probate to contest it. If you contest the will before it is admitted or filed, you may be able to prevent the will from being admitted to probate at all. But even if you miss your chance and the will gets admitted, you still have two years from the date of admission to contest it.

How Much Does a Probate Litigation Lawyer Cost?

The cost for a probate litigation lawyer’s services will vary depending on factors like the complexity of the case, the strength of your opposition’s case, and how much time it will take to litigate. Probate litigation attorneys typically bill hourly for their services, and fees and costs can rise quickly, particularly when a case goes to trial. However, some probate litigation lawyers offer alternative fee agreements, such as contingent and hybrid structures.

If you have limited funds to spend on probate litigation, you may want to consider retaining a lawyer to advise you on whether your case has merit. Wills can only be contested under certain circumstances, and a probate litigation lawyer can help you make an informed decision about whether your case is worth pursuing by explaining your options and how much they will cost.

Have questions? We’re happy to discuss.
Call (346) 502-6700 or email [email protected]

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About RMO, LLP

RMO LLP provides personal and efficient inheritance dispute services to individual and institutional clients. The firm’s attorneys focus on probate litigation involving contested trust, estate, probate, and conservatorship matters. Serving California and Texas, with offices in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Orange County, San Diego, Fresno, the Bay Area, Dallas, and Houston. For more information, please visit https://rmolawyers.com/.

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About the Author

Scott Rahn, Founding Partner

Scott Rahn resolves contests, disputes and litigation related to trusts, estates and conservatorships, creating a welcome peace of mind for clients. He represents heirs, beneficiaries, trustees and executors. He utilizes his experience to develop and implement strategies that swiftly and efficiently address the financial issues, fiduciary duties and emotional complexities underlying trust contests, estates conflicts and probate litigation.

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