Are you inheriting a house via the probate process? If so, the legal process can be long and arduous. The probate process is not only long but can be expensive hence why you need the best probate attorney. The better your probate attorney the better and faster the case can proceed. Follow these tips for finding the best attorney for the job!
Get Personal Referrals
Talk to people who have experience with kind of problem or service you seek. Inquire from them which probate attorney assisted them and their opinion of them. If you got about half a dozen personal referrals from your community, chances are high that you will get a worthy lead.
Check Their Background
Before hiring any probate attorney, get in touch with the respective lawyer’s disciplinary agencies and confirm if they are in good standing. If you picked the attorney through the Internet, always check references. Additionally, you can check how his or her peers rate them online. Peer review ratings are an excellent and objective indicator of the professional ability and ethical standards of a lawyer as they are generated from evaluations by members of the US judiciary and members of the bar.
While trust is important, equally important is having an attorney that has extensive experience in probate matters. Does the attorney possess the necessary expertise in other areas related to probate matters like estate planning and trusts? Nothing beats experience hence why it’s vital to get a lawyer who is familiar with the local probate and real estate laws.
Your Special Needs
Remember all probate cases are not similar. Does the probate attorney possess special skills needed to handle your unique circumstances? Is the attorney for example, licensed to practice in other states in case your matter traverses more than a single state?
Seek An Appointment
After narrowing down your list of potential attorneys seek to meet several in person. Of course, good attorneys are quite busy and as such may not have too much to spend on prospective clients. However, if it takes too long for them to meet you, this could be an indication that they could be too busy to give your probate case the attention it deserves.
Tour Their Office
You can learn a lot about a probate lawyer from their law office. Once you secure the appointment, request a tour of their office, beyond where the initial meeting is taking place. Is the office orderly, neat, well-run and efficient? Does the support staff appear helpful and friendly? Red flags to watch out for include empty offices, unhappy members of staff, general office disorganization.
Another very vital aspect when selecting your probate lawyer is interpersonal chemistry. Prior to engaging him or her, seek to meet them face-to-face. It’s important that you are comfortable with your attorney at the personal level. Simply because he knows all about probate matters doesn’t mean he is your best option. How approachable are they? Are they friendly? Do they make you feel comfortable or intimidated? Besides being an expert, a good attorney is also adept at counseling and helping clients. Here are questions Avvo suggests:
If you retain a particular attorney, who will perform most of the work on your case – the attorney you meet with? Another attorney? An inexperienced attorney right out of law school? A paralegal? A secretary? What is the firm’s policy for returning inquiries from clients?
Confirm The Fees
While it is generally impossible for an attorney to quote for you an exact fee for your probate case before they even hear about the case particulars, they should at least be ready to give you an estimate of the fee range. Be cautious of someone that quotes for you some fixed fee even before they meet you and discuss your particular case. Probably they charge every client the same fee because everybody gets the same generic treatment or plan.
What are reasonable attorney fees? To figure out of you are been charged a fair price, call around to several local attorneys to see what the market rate is. Also consider how complex the probate litigation is. The more complex litigation (for example, with multiple heirs contesting distributions, creditors making claims, or high value assets) you can expect to pay higher rates for the skill needed to work the case. Lastly, figure out an estimate of the amount of hours the litigation will likely take.
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