Probate solicitors provide legal advice for issues involving a person's estate. The field of estate planning can be complicated and may include drafting a will, a living will, or a power of attorney. The solicitor will consider the client's personal situation and recommend solutions that will help him or her make sure that the property is distributed in the way he or she chooses after death.
Making a will may not be something that a person wants to think about, but probate solicitors provide estate planning advice to their clients. Any money or property a person accumulates during his or her lifetime will need to be distributed in some fashion after death. When a person in the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom dies without a will, his or her property is divided according to the law of the jurisdiction where he or she lived. To ensure that an individual's estate is divided in the manner they want, he or she needs to have a valid will in place.
People working as probate solicitors are very familiar with estate law. They can advise their clients about how to transfer their property to the people or charities of their choice, while minimizing any tax liability. Part of the probate lawyer's job is to make sure the client understands the contents of his or her will.
Probate solicitors also work with people who want to make a living will. This document is used to set out a person's wishes for end-of-life care if he or she is terminally ill or critically injured. People can choose what kinds of measures they would like medical personnel to administer if they are seriously ill. For example, the person signing the living will may not want doctors to use a defibrillator if he or she goes into cardiac arrest. The lawyer can help the client to understand the consequences of signing a living will and provide information about how to revoke the document after signing, if desired.
Another part of the work that probate solicitors do is to provide advice about drafting a power of attorney. This document gives another person the ability to make decisions for a person if he or she becomes incapacitated. The power of attorney may also be given for a specific purpose, such as when an individual will be out of the country for a time and wants to appoint someone to pay bills or manage property during this time.