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The Difference Between Probate, Trust, and Estate Lawyers




At Surasky Law, we offer our clients comprehensive estate planning and probate services. One question members of the public have is what type of lawyer they need for a legal issue. In particular, many people don’t understand the difference between probate lawyers and estate attorneys. The difference is simple: estate lawyers work with clients before death, while probate lawyers jump in to handle issues that arise after a person dies.


In this article, we look at the services probate, trust, and estate lawyers provide clients. The good news is that Surasky Law Firm, LLC, provides all of these services to clients in and around Aiken, South Carolina. Give us a call if you want to schedule a meeting to discuss your legal needs.


Duties of a Probate Lawyer

Probate is the process of winding up a person’s estate after their death. The probate lawyer can help with all phases of probate, including:


  1. Advising family members about whether to challenge a will as invalid.

  2. Offering advice to personal representatives as they fulfill their duties.

  3. Attending court on behalf of the personal representative.

  4. Filling out and filing documents for the personal representative to file with the probate court.

  5. Representing clients in a will contest in probate court.

  6. Defending the estate from creditor claims.

  7. Handling other litigation on behalf of the estate.

  8. Negotiating a resolution to many disputes, if possible, to bring litigation to a swift end.


Probate is often a simple process for many estates. But when problems arise—like a creditor claiming the deceased owed them, even though there are no documents creating a debt obligation—you might need help from a probate lawyer.


Probate lawyers work most frequently with family members or personal representatives. Probate can involve giving advice or handling litigation within the probate court. You should clarify when meeting with a probate lawyer whether they specialize in only litigation or whether they offer non-litigation services. Each probate lawyer is different.


Duties of a Trust Lawyer

A trust lawyer helps clients by:


  1. Identifying their goals by creating a trust, e.g., reaping tax savings or helping a disabled child receive government benefits after inheriting from you.

  2. Choosing the right trust for our client’s needs.

  3. Helping the client identify an appropriate trustee to manage the assets in the trust.

  4. Drafting a trust.

  5. Handling the execution of the trust.

  6. Challenging a trust on behalf of family members.


Many trust lawyers are well-versed in other estate planning needs, such as living wills and powers of attorney. However, the law of trusts is very complicated, so a lawyer might only specialize in this area of law.


Duties of an Estate Lawyer

An estate lawyer provides comprehensive legal services to clients as they prepare for the future. This often includes:


  1. Identifying who you want to leave assets to when you die.

  2. Helping you choose between a will or trust, or possibly choosing to create both.

  3. Identifying non-probate ways of leaving assets, such as joint tenancy with right of survivorship or even gifts while you are alive.

  4. Drafting and executing a will or trust.

  5. Creating a health care power of attorney and general power of attorney.

  6. Drafting a living will in consultation with the client.

  7. Answering questions regarding estate planning.

  8. Helping with the selection of personal representatives, trustees, agents, and others.

  9. Updating an estate plan to account for life changes, including divorce or the birth of children.


Unlike a trust lawyer, an estate planning attorney handles all types of issues, including trusts. An estate planning lawyer might consult with an experienced trust attorney if there are questions about unique or new trusts.


We Provide Comprehensive Estate Planning & Probate Representation

Some lawyers handle both estate planning and probate matters. That’s not surprising. The law involved in both is the same. For example, an estate planning lawyer needs to know the formalities of a last will and testament to help clients create a valid will. Similarly, a probate lawyer needs to know the formalities because he might challenge the validity of a will in probate.


Surasky Law Firm provides both probate and estate planning legal services. If you are thinking about creating a will, then give us a call. We can talk about whether that’s your best option or whether you might benefit from a trust or another non-probate method of transferring assets. We can also talk about any unique goals, such as tax reduction.


Our firm is also ready to step in and assist clients involved in probate. Our legal team has helped personal representatives review creditor claims, accept or reject them, and defend the estate from lawsuits. We also offer advice if the personal representative doesn’t know what to do, such as how to keep certain assets safe before distribution.


Our probate practice can also help those looking to challenge a will or trust. Many family members are disappointed at being cut out of a will. Or they watched as an elderly parent suddenly changed their will to leave everything to their nurse or caretaker. We can review the facts to determine whether the deceased had the capacity to create a will, trust, or other legal document. And we might file a lawsuit in probate court to protect your interests.


Contact Surasky Law for a Consultation Today!

Our firm believes that everyone deserves quality estate planning services at an affordable price. We also are committed to relieving the stress families feel after a loved one dies. We have created countless estate plans, including trusts, and have helped shepherd many estates through probate. This work provides enormous satisfaction because we know we are helping the Aiken, SC community.


Please call Surasky Law Firm. We are proud of the estate planning and probate practices we have built over the past 20 years and are eager to discuss your legal needs with you. You may schedule a consultation by calling our firm or reaching out online.






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