Not every law firm employs the assistance of a paralegal, but those firms that do, benefit in many ways. This is also true in the area of probate law. Paralegals provide such benefits as increased accessibility and better relationships between the firm and the client. The function of a probate paralegal cannot be overlooked.
Initial evaluation of client needs
The initial meeting with each client is very important. Paralegals usually assist in gathering all necessary information from the client and determining which types of services to suggest. They are trained to ask clients the proper questions to determine how their needs can be best served by the attorneys.
Again, a paralegal’s job is often to be the liaison between the client and attorney. This makes communication between the two, much more efficient. Specifically in probate work, paralegals often interview clients in order to create and manage a customized calendar of critical dates, so that deadlines will not be missed.
Creating an inventory
Probate paralegals also help with filing the asset inventory with the court. They are generally responsible for collecting asset information from the client, as well as, drafting the actual inventory document to be filed. Paralegals evaluate assets, at the time of the decedent’s death, and determine the alternate valuation date.
Handling legal documents
Probate paralegals are specifically trained to prepare and file any of the documents required for the administration and closing of the estate in probate. Paralegals are capable of interpreting the provisions of wills and handling all aspects of surrendering life insurance and other death benefit claims.
Evaluating creditor claims
Once a decedent’s creditors have been notified of the death, the paralegal reviews the claims submitted by creditors to determine if they are legitimate and need to be paid from the estate. The paralegal also keeps the financial records for the estate, verifies bank balances and prepares the necessary estimates for paying estate taxes. They can then draft state inheritance tax returns, if required by the state, and federal estate tax returns.
Non-probate related matters
Probate paralegals are likewise trained to obtain the information necessary for other estate planning services. This information is used to draft wills, trusts, documents needed for establishing guardianships, conservatorships, and many other related documents. They can draft real and personal property sales documents, power of attorney documents and other essential estate planning documents.
Paralegals are always supervised
The work of a probate paralegal is always reviewed by the estate planning attorney for him the work is being performed. Indeed, as a paraprofessional, it is required that they work under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney. This working relationship is very similar to physician assistants and teaching assistants. Paralegals are trained to assist attorneys, who have more extensive training in the field. You can be certain that, if you work with a probate attorney, you will still be receiving top notch service.
If you have questions regarding probate work, or any other estate planning needs, please contact the Schomer Law Group either online or by calling us at (310) 337-7696.