When you’ve been named the executor of a will, you might want to hire a probate attorney. Depending on how complicated the estate administration may be, a probate lawyer can answer your questions or handle the entire process.
You’re not obligated to choose the lawyer who drafted your loved one’s will. In fact, it’s best to find an attorney who makes you feel comfortable and supported. That may or may not be the drafting attorney.
Here’s how to choose the right probate attorney for your needs.
Searching for candidates
If you know anyone who has used a probate attorney in the past, ask them who they worked with and whether they’d recommend their services. Most people are happy to tell you with whom they’ve worked and whether you should hire or avoid them.
When word of mouth isn’t effective, you can always call your state bar association for referrals. Bar associations keep lawyer directories and are happy to provide names of probate lawyers in your area.
Finally, you can always use a Google search. Just remember to thoroughly research every attorney you find.
What to ask probate attorneys
Before you choose a probate lawyer, you’ll need to interview each of them. The goal is to find out three things: whether they’re capable of performing the work, how they expect the proceedings to go and whether you want to work with them.
Here are some of the questions you should ask:
- How often do you handle probate matters? This will help you get a sense of whether the attorney is experienced in probate. Sometimes a newer attorney can be a good choice—just make sure they have experienced mentors or senior lawyers available for assistance.
- Who will handle my case? Make sure you understand who at the firm will handle your case, whether that’s a senior lawyer or a junior attorney. They may ask assistants or paralegals to do some of the work, so ask if you’ll pay a lower rate for that portion.
- What kind of fee agreements do you use? How do the attorneys charge for their time—and how much do they expect
overall cost will be?Can you pay with cash, check, credit card or other payment method?
- Will you perform final tax returns for the person and estate? Even estates have to pay taxes. Look for a probate attorney who will take this job off your plate.
- How long will probate take? Knowing how long the process will take will help you temper your expectations.
- Do you anticipate any unusual challenges? Finally, ask the attorney whether they think anything about the case may be unusual, such as issues with the will itself, how it’s distributed or problems with trusts and other funds.
Once you’ve talked to several probate attorneys, you’ll know who makes you feel the most confident and comfortable.
When you need a probate lawyer, reach out to the Law Offices of Granoff & Kessler. We can help you navigate the probate process, starting with an initial consultation.
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