How to Become an Estate Lawyer

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An article by contributor Alicia Hill.

To plan for the disposal of your estate, you need to establish a will, trust, and power of attorney. By doing so, you will reduce uncertainties about to the distribution of your property and help increase its worth by reducing taxes and other costs.

The first step in the legal process of administering an estate is the receipt of probate. It is the role of the probate court to validate and approve a will. If necessary, an estate law attorney can enforce the probated will, now a legal document, in court.

What is an Estate Lawyer?

An estate attorney, also referred to as a probate attorney or estate planning lawyer, is a type of licensed lawyer who, through years of mentoring, continuing legal experience and education, understands how to advise executors, also know personal representatives, and the beneficiaries of an estate on how to settle all the final affairs of the deceased, commonly known as a decedent.

How to Become an Estate Lawyer: Undergraduate Degree

If you are planning to become a family estate lawyer, you need around seven years of study after high school. You must first earn an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university, which typically takes four years regardless of the field of study. Law schools do not require that you complete a specific major. However, it is advisable that you choose a business-related degree, such as business, accounting, or economics, because much of the real estate law practice involves business transactions. Alternatively, you can enroll for a pre-law degree program, which equips students with analytical, oral and communication skills needed in joining law school.

Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)

The Law School Admissions Test, which is a half-day exam, is the most important part of your application, and law schools accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) require that you take the test. The standardized test measures your reading and verbal reasoning skills. You should study to score well on the LSAT to increase your chances of acceptance. Most law schools also use the LSAT score as a quantitative factor when determining financial aid.

Earn a Juris Doctor Degree

To practice real estate law, you must have a law degree, commonly known as a Juris Doctorate (J.D), from an approved law school. The degree takes three years of full-time study, but it might take longer if you choose to study part time.

You will spend the first year learning the fundamentals of the law like legal writing, torts, and civil procedure. In the second and final years, you are more flexible to choose your coursework, allowing you to specialize in your preferred field such as real estate law, taxation, asset management, trusts, estate planning.

Pass the Bar Exam

Most states in America require that you pass the bar exam before practicing as an estate administration lawyer. The format of the bar exams varies, and they may consist of several days of essay and multiple-choice questions. Most states include the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE); an ethics exam, and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) in the bar. You may also be required to complete a local bar exam.

Earn a Certificate or a Master of Laws

Earning a graduate-level legal certificate or degree, such as Master of Laws (LLM), is not a requirement for practicing wills & estate lawyers, but it can lead to additional career opportunities. Enrolling into the program can mean an additional one to two years of study, depending on the subject. These programs mostly consist of courses in federal tax law, real estate finance and commercial real estate. You must also train in the Uniform Probate Code. The code imposes limits and rules to trusts and wills.

Estate Lawyer Job Description & Skills Required

Estate lawyers help clients determine the specific distribution of their estate and advise those willing to establish a trust. They draft trusts, wills, and other real estate planning documents. Estate law attorneys also provide counsel about charitable contributions, life insurance policies and retirement plans. It is also the responsibility of an attorney to litigate the case when it goes to probate court.

Read Also: 5 Engaging Careers for Logical Thinkers

Strong organization, teamwork and good communication skills are vital for estate lawyers. They must also have a thorough grasp of wills, trusts, real estate, property and state and federal tax laws.

Alicia Hill is a content writer with background in business management, class consulting and marketing communication. Recently, she writes for Queensland Estate Lawyers.

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