How to Choose a Probate Attorney

A probate attorney is a state-licensed lawyer who helps the executor of a will or the beneficiaries of an estate through the probate process. This includes applying for a grant of probate, as well as finding and inventorying assets, paying all debts, settling the estate and distributing inheritances.

A person who wants to become a probate attorney can attend law school to earn a degree. They should choose a program that offers a concentration in estate and trust law. Some attorneys also attend seminars to learn more about the process. They may take the LSAT before applying to law school to improve their chances of getting in.

After completing law school, a prospective probate attorney must pass the bar exam to get their license to practice. They can then begin practicing estate and trust law. They should try to build a solid reputation by working hard and being dedicated to their clients. This can help them attract new clients and build a strong referral network.

One of the most important factors in choosing a probate attorney is the amount of experience they have. The more experience a lawyer has, the more likely they are to know how to handle a case quickly and efficiently. In addition, they will be familiar with the local court system and judge’s preferences. This can save time and money for the client.

In addition to being knowledgeable in the estate planning process, a probate attorney should be comfortable with handling tax issues. They should be able to explain complex estate and tax laws in an easy-to-understand way. They should also be able to work with other professionals such as accountants and financial planners.

Another important factor to consider is how much a probate attorney charges. Some lawyers will charge a flat fee, while others will request a percentage of the estate value. This percentage is usually based on the gross value of the estate, not including debts like mortgages on property. It is best to ask a probate attorney about their fees before hiring them to avoid any surprises.

While a probate attorney does not enjoy the high-profile sexiness of a seven-figure corporate lawyer, or the choice TV news airtime and glamorous newspaper write-ups of a top criminal defense attorney in the midst of a big case, they do play a very important role. Their work ensures that an individual’s estate assets are distributed among their loved ones according to their stipulations and in strict accordance with state laws. In doing so, they also protect the rights of beneficiaries against people who feel they are entitled to a part of the estate. This is particularly important in our society where strangers can come out of the woodwork to claim a portion of an estate. This is what makes the work of a probate attorney both noble and essential.

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