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7 Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Probate Attorney

Hiring an attorney isn’t as easy a task as it may seem. Not every attorney is well-versed in the intricacies of probate law, and finding the right professional to guide you through the complexities of probate proceedings is crucial.

The only way to determine whether an attorney can handle your probate case is by discussing your situation and asking the right questions. An attorney who provides accurate and helpful answers, addressing your concerns and confusion, will be the best match for you.

To assist you in this crucial decision-making process, we’ll share the seven essential questions to ask before hiring a probate attorney. The answers to these questions will not only shed light on the attorney’s expertise but also empower you to make an informed decision. 

7 Critical Questions To Ask Your Potential Probate Attorney 

Here are the seven critical questions to ask your potential probate attorney. Remember, these questions are only the minimum and basic criteria. You can add as many questions as you want related to your case. 

1. How Long Has The Attorney Been Practicing Probate Law?

The first question to ask is how long the attorney has been practicing probate law. Keep in mind that not every attorney is an expert in probate law cases, and the attorney you might be choosing could have only a few cases experience, which can be a downside. 

Check how much experience they have with probate cases. If they just started practicing probate law, it might be better to find someone else. Experience matters to make sure your lawyer knows what they’re doing.

2. What Is the Primary Focus Area of Your Practice?

After making sure your attorney has been practicing probate law, find out what the primary focus areas of practice are. Probate law is a big niche that covers many legal areas like estate planning, trust administration, wills, tax planning, power of attorney and so forth.  

It’s best to hire a probate attorney who’s experienced and has been focusing on the same area of your case. For example, if your case is about the disagreement of will, you should prefer an attorney who has been dealing with the same cases. 

3. Have You Successfully Executed The Same Cases In The Past?

Now, the third question should be about whether they’ve successfully executed the cases in the past or not. Knowing whether an attorney has successfully executed wills in the past is crucial for evaluating their competence in handling similar cases.

If the attorney replies yes, you can ask more questions, such as what the results of similar cases were. This way, you can gain insights into their ability to navigate the intricacies of will execution and provide assurance that your case will be in capable hands.

4. How Does The Probate Process Work?

You may have got all the info from the internet about how the probate process works, but it’s best to ask the attorney this question. It’s not to check the attorney’s knowledge but to understand the process better. 

The knowledge you got from the internet is general, but your attorney will tell you everything per your case. Your attorney will break down the probate process into understandable steps, outlining how assets are distributed, debts are settled, and legal matters are resolved. 

5. How Do You Charge For Your Services?

The fifth question is about how the probate attorney will charge for the services for the case. As per California law, Prob Code 10800, the attorney will get a specific percentage according to the gross value of the estate. For example: 

  • 4% on the first $100,000
  • 3% on the next $100,000
  • 2% on the next $800,000
  • 1% on the next $9,000,000
  • 0.5% on the next $15,000,000
  • Above $25,000,000, the court will decide 

However, it’s best to ask questions about the charges. Also, don’t forget to discuss the charges of court fees and other expenses that are not included in the attorney fee. Clarifying these financial aspects ensures transparency and helps you make well-informed decisions. 

6. How Long Does A Typical Probate Case Take?

The question of how long a typical probate case takes is also crucial. While the duration can vary based on factors such as case complexity and court schedules, asking this question provides insight into the attorney’s ability to outline a reasonable timeline.

It will help you get ready for what can happen in the future. You will not have unrealistic expectations that the case will be solved in minimum time. Besides everything, you can plan and navigate the probate process with a clearer understanding. 

7. What Can I Anticipate Throughout The Probate Process?

You can ask your attorney what the results of the probate can be and what you should expect. While no attorney can give an exact answer, they can tell how strong your case is and what the chances of winning are. 

By knowing the details about the case and what can happen, you can prepare yourself for the upcoming challenges. This comprehensive overview allows you to approach each stage with confidence and also shows how confident the attorney is. 

Conclusion

Asking the right questions is your gateway to understanding whether an attorney can handle your probate case effectively. A good attorney always provides accurate and helpful answers that align with your needs and concerns.

If you feel your attorney is failing to answer your question and can’t help you clear your mind, it’s best to consult your case with other attorneys. You can also contact probate lawyers from our firm; we offer a free consultation for our clients. 

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Dustin MacFarlane’s primary focus is on Elder Law and protecting families and seniors. He is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law by the State Bar of California Board of Specialization — a rare distinction.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. MacFarlane worked in the Long Term Care industry. After becoming licensed to practice law in January of 2009, Elder Law quickly became his focus. Seeing the need during his former career, Mr. MacFarlane pursued Elder Law as a primary area of practice.

By Dustin MacFarlane

Dustin MacFarlane’s primary focus is on Elder Law and protecting families and seniors. He is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law by the State Bar of California Board of Specialization — a rare distinction.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. MacFarlane worked in the Long Term Care industry. After becoming licensed to practice law in January of 2009, Elder Law quickly became his focus. Seeing the need during his former career, Mr. MacFarlane pursued Elder Law as a primary area of practice.