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Differences Between an Estate Planning Lawyer and Probate Lawyer in Ohio

Differences Between an Estate Planning Lawyer and Probate Lawyer in Ohio
April 14, 2020 Shannon Dawes
Valuation of Assets within an Estate Plan

A qualified Ohio estate planning lawyer and a lawyer who handles probate matters are both professionals who can assist individuals with matters related to end-of-life planning and what to do following the death of a loved one. While there may appear to be some overlap in the subject matter these two groups of lawyers handle, estate-planning attorneys and those who help with estate administration or probate actually operate in two different realms. Knowing the difference between these two arenas can help ensure you select the right individual to help you with your needs.

Estate Planning Happens Before Death; Administration Happens Afterward 

Both types of lawyers ought to be well-versed in the rules and laws pertaining to how estates are administered. However, an estate-planning attorney will utilize this knowledge to help individuals who are still alive manage how they want their affairs handled following their deaths. An attorney who only works in the estate-planning arena is of little use to an individual who has passed.

Conversely, a probate attorney will have the knowledge and resources to help effectuate the wishes a decedent expressed in their estate plan as much as possible. The probate lawyer’s client is not the decedent but rather the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate. While a probate lawyer may be well-versed in how to administer an estate plan, they may not have in-depth knowledge of what goes into a crafting a comprehensive estate plan

Choosing the Right Lawyer for Your Needs

Beyond selecting a lawyer based on whether you are wanting to craft your own estate plan or are needing help administering a loved one’s estate plan, one should consider the following:

  • How does the attorney keep themselves updated on legal developments? Although laws change slowly, the impacts of such changes when they do occur can be significant. The attorney you choose to represent you should take steps to keep themselves informed of important legal developments and how such developments affect clients.
  • How broad is the attorney’s knowledge? The most eloquently-worded estate plan is useless if it is invalid or illegal under Ohio’s probate code and caselaw. An estate planning lawyer ought to have a knowledgebase that can help them create estate plans that can be legally carried out by the administrator after the person’s death. In a similar way, a qualified probate lawyer will have an understanding of the various estate planning tools and how they operate so they may better appreciate what goals a decedent was attempting to accomplish through their plan.
  • What is the attorney’s case- or client-load? On the one hand, you do not want an attorney who has so many cases or clients that they cannot give your situation the time and attention it deserves. On the other hand, those attorneys who regularly practice their craft will generally (1) be more familiar with the local court rules and practices; (2) provide more accurate and practical advice; and (3) be able to take quicker, more decisive action to resolve your concern or matter.

Why Choose Dawes Legal, LLC? 

Dawes Legal, LLC is an Ohio estate planning law firm that seeks to help individuals plan their affairs so that their family and loved ones may be provided for in the event of a terrible accident or untimely death. Our experience enables us to craft individual estate plans tailored to our clients’ needs and goals that comply with applicable laws, rules, and regulations. Let us put our knowledge and resources to work for you. Speak to us about your estate planning needs by calling our Columbus, Ohio office at (614) 733-9999.