Now that fiduciary responsibilities have fallen on you as an estate executor, you are faced with a lot of challenges that are characteristic of probate, and you most certainly would need legal guidance in pushing through the thick and thin of the process. The person to offer this legal guidance is a probate lawyer, and it is essential you make a good hire as this may mean the difference between having a good probate experience and a bad one.
So how do you hire a probate lawyer? What indeed is most important to you? Do you consider cost, locality, reputation, or age? There is likely to be a host of good lawyers in your county and you may not know which to opt for, and this is the purpose of this article, presenting you with 5 ways to hiring a probate lawyer.
1. Seek for referrals
To get a competent lawyer, start by asking friends, relatives, accountants, legal advisors, as well as other professionals who may have been involved with one or more probate lawyers in the recent past. Be assured that when you engage a probate lawyer who has positive reviews from other clients whom he or she has worked with, you are also going to get a wonderful experience. These people whom you ask for their opinion would know if the lawyer is competent enough to handle your situation, how emphatic, coherent and expensive he or she is.
2. Do your own research
Once you have gotten some referrals, check out the names of these lawyers online. Do you have a particular attorney in mind? Look them up. Do they own websites? Remember never to get carried away by the looks and feel of their websites but what they say about themselves and the kinds of words they use. How do they advertise their services? How many positive reviews do they have? Are they really specialized in probate law? Do they have adequate years of experience handling probate issues in your state of residence? Do they sound polite and warm enough for you to approach? All these criteria would determine whether or not you would have a good experience with whichever probate attorney you so choose to hire.
3. What is your top priority?
Before heading off to the office of your chosen probate lawyer, take some time to think about what exactly you are looking out for. Do you hope to cut down on expenses associated with probate? Then you may be better suited with a not-so-expensive probate lawyer. Do you consider location? Location becomes quite important when you hope to have regular visits. Is your choice probate lawyer’s office in close proximity with you and hence easily accessible? Is he or she actually specialized in probate issues or merely involved with estate planning in its vastness? Is having a confidential discussion your priority? Is it compassion or empathy? Then a warm humane attorney would be the best choice. Or is all you need a hardheaded weapon-of-warfare attorney to help you tackle difficult court matters? These are things to consider in hiring a probate lawyer.
4. Speak with the lawyer
After having background knowledge about that favorite lawyer, the best way to know if he or she is a good fit for you is by actually speaking with them. You could do this over the phone or booking an appointment for a consultation. While some probate lawyers would make the first consultation free, others would charge per hour or attach a flat fee. Since they know the probate process would take a considerable amount of time with a good paycheck for them, some probate lawyers normally do not attach a fee to the first consultation. When you speak to them before hiring, note if they are actually who they portray themselves to be on their websites. Do they communicate warmly enough or like some red-blooded robotic? Do they answer your questions and offer you enlightenment?
5. Have a clear legal agreement
Once you have agreed to work with the probate lawyer, both of you should be clear about the terms of your agreement and what he or she hopes to achieve for you within a stipulated period during probate. Ensure that both parties are clear on the fees and mode of payment and timing of meetings to avoid unnecessary misunderstanding. If you expect him to respond to your email or solve a problem within an hour whereas he has so much on his plate to handle, you may be left disappointed but really, he isn’t to blame for having so much to handle. Have a clear communication with your probate lawyer and ask him to throw more light on areas which still prove dark to you.