Law is a time-consuming beast full of big words and confusing terms. That’s why regular people don’t usually handle their legal affairs alone. Instead, they hire those who are experts in the subject. A probate lawyer will likely be able to handle the majority of probate issues you may be having. But here’s the big question: When is it time for you to consider hiring a probate lawyer? Plus, what questions should you ask a professional you’re thinking of hiring?
When May You Need to Hire a Probate Lawyer?
As with any legal issue, there are times when you need to hire an attorney and times when you can handle things yourself. Here are some examples of situations when you may need to consider hiring a probate lawyer.
1. Court Hearings
Any time you enter a courtroom to go before a judge, it’s always a good idea to have an expert by your side to aid you if you’re not fully able to handle it yourself. Not only will this help with your peace of mind, but it’s really in your best interest. Probate lawyers are experienced in interpreting documents and keeping them safe outside of the courtroom. They’ll advise you on what not to say and do to keep yourself grounded during your hearing.
A probate lawyer can also deal with any unexpected or complex issues that may arise and changes that may occur. At the end of the day, if you hire the right probate lawyer, he will do the best job he can for you.
2. Creating, Signing or Negotiating Contracts
Sometimes a probate lawyer is needed to draft contracts that properly address the wishes of the deceased or to aid those who are inheriting property. In business, too, assets can be complicated enough to warrant hiring some help.
A probate lawyer can also ensure that all the correct documents are in place for whatever your issue is, from transferring ownership to dissolving it.
Keep in mind that it’s common sense to read a contract before you sign it — but dealing with contracts isn’t always as simple as that. There are things that you may miss a probate lawyer will catch, terms used that you may not understand and things that may come up that aren’t covered in the contract.
Humans are not known for their perfect reasoning and rational behavior. Anyone will tell you that. Even in the darkest of times, such as a family death — which should be filled with nothing but respect — probate issues can arise, such as disputes over estate proceedings and even the validity of heirs.
A good probate lawyer is needed to represent any arguing party in a conflict to make sure the outcome is the best one possible. In fact, during times where emotions run high and wild, bringing in a legal expert sooner rather than later is to your benefit.
If a conflict is caught early by a probate lawyer, it may even be able to be resolved before it turns into a nasty court battle that could leave deep ridges in relationships forever and lead to a less than fair outcome.
Questions to Ask a Probate Lawyer Before Hire
As with anything, probate lawyers aren’t all equal. When considering hiring this type of attorney, it’s important to ask the right questions upfront. Doing so can help things go more smoothly and create a good understanding between you and your lawyer. Here are just a few questions that you may want to ask to ensure you both are on the same page:
What types of cases do you deal with?
All cases are unique, so sometimes you’ll want a lawyer with specific experience to his credit. A more experienced attorney will likely be a better hire than someone who just graduated law school.
Also, you may want to choose a firm that specializes in probate law. According to Florida Probate Law Firm – a good place to start if you’re looking for a Florida probate attorney: “One of the advantages to working with a firm that specializes in one practice area of law, is the reassurance that we frequently address issues regarding estate planning, probate administration, trustee and guardianship situations on a regular basis and have a depth of knowledge built by our hands-on experience.”
How long do you think this will take?
This is a very difficult question to answer, but you’ll never want a probate case to take too long. A good lawyer should be able to give you at least some guidance on this question.
Do you charge by the hour, by the case or some other way?
Although probate lawyers often charge less than other types of attorneys, legal services are still costly. It’s good to have your finances in order first and have a lawyer who is clear with you on how they will charge for his services.
Will I be working with you directly?
Lawyers are busy people. You’ll want to know if you’ll be working with your lawyer directly or instead with a paralegal.