If you are a named or want to be named the personal representative of a deceased person’s estate, you will want to hire an experienced estate probate lawyer to help you. Here are some important questions to ask in your search for the right probate lawyer for you:

You will want an estate probate lawyer who is highly experienced with the probate process and who has practiced extensively before the relevant Register of Wills and Orphan’s Court in the county of the decedent’s primary residence at the time of death.
Look for an estate probate lawyer who offers a full range of probate services. These should include services needed in your particular estate administration. A qualified probate attorney will be able to resolve the many types of issues that arise during probates. Some of these issues may involve non-legal matters outside the expertise of many lawyers.
Your lawyer may need to use certain non-legal services for some probate matters. These may include the services of:

  • specialized auction houses
  • appraisers, and
  • consignment shops
  • contractors (to help prepare the decedent’s residence for sale)

You will want a probate attorney who has established and trusted relationships with such businesses.

Executors may be personally liable to heirs, creditors, and others if they do not follow the probate code. One way to limit their exposure is for the executor to (sometimes) obtain court approval before distributing assets.  Look for an estate probate lawyer who is experienced with these court proceedings. You want a lawyer who knows precisely what steps to take to protect you.
You want an estate probate lawyer who will keep you fully informed throughout the probate process. Ask if you will be able to reach the lawyer if you have questions. Ask if the lawyer will keep you up to date on the probate’s progress. Some attorneys will provide their clients with phone numbers for after-hours contact.
You need an estate probate lawyer who will provide you with copies of important estate probate documents on a regular basis. These should include documents related to billing.
You want to be sure that the probate firm will charge for their probate work at the appropriate rates.  Firms should charge a lesser rate for services performed by a legal assistants or a paralegal. They should only charge the higher rates applicable to the attorneys’ work when legal work is performed by lawyers.  In most cases, the estate’s fees should be paid out of the estate’s assets rather than by you.
Some probate lawyers require estates to pay attorneys’ fees before the probate process is completed. Ask if the lawyer will wait for payment of their fees until after the assets are distributed to the heirs. (Asset distribution usually occurs at the very end of the probate process.)
Most probate lawyers will meet with you for the first time, free of charge. This gives you a chance to decide if the lawyer and the firm are the right fit for you.
Heiligman & Mogul, P.C. has been providing clients with comprehensive and high-quality estate probate services since 1988. We will give the answers you are looking for to all of the questions listed above, and more. Contact us today to schedule a free meeting with our firm.