How To Choose The Best Probate Lawyer For You

Lawyers sometimes receive bad press for certain reasons. However, there are good lawyers out there, and more importantly, there’s a good lawyer for your needs. In particular, when you’re dealing with a loss in the family and you’re going through a difficult time, you don’t have the emotional headspace to deal with difficult choices. This is why you should choose the best probate lawyer for you. 

Times have changed, and competition has increased significantly. Most law firms are focused on providing you with an optimal client experience to solve your problems and, more importantly, at fixed prices. 

Competition matters because unless you live in a one-lawyer town, there’s no shortage of choice when it comes to picking a lawyer for your needs. This means that modern lawyers must be insightful, helpful, and knowledgeable, and their services have to be value for money. This rings especially true for Probate lawyers as they need to be particularly good at listening, kind and efficient. 

Good lawyers achieve optimal results with knowledge, logic, charm, and persuasion. Bad lawyers, on the other hand, use bluster and bully techniques. So what does a good probate lawyer look like? Let’s start by looking at the role of a probate lawyer. 

What Is The Role Of A Probate Lawyer?

If a deceased person has assets that are being held by an entity on their behalf (i.e. money in a bank account), this entity will often not release these assets unless they are provided with Probate.

In broad terms, there are two types of probate lawyers – transactional and litigators. Transactional probate lawyers take care of probate’s administrative side, whereas litigation lawyers represent you when there is a probate lawsuit. Most lawyers tend to specialise in a particular area, but some do both. 

If a loved one recently passed away, you would aim to hire a transactional probate lawyer to get the probate process started. However, if you want to challenge a will or are generally unsatisfied with how the executor or your current lawyer is handling probate, you would look for a litigator. If you foresee any legal battles over an estate, you would also do well to search for a litigation probate lawyer or one that can do both.

How To Find The Best Probate Lawyer For You

Look for a lawyer who regularly handles probate matters or specialises in probate exclusively but has enough experience with other law areas. This is particularly relevant when the deceased person had extensive real estate holdings. In this case, a lawyer with knowledge of property law would be beneficial. 

Looking at references, public ratings, referrals etc., is always a good idea when assessing your potential Probate lawyer. 

Information should you ask or look for:

Online Search Results – A quick Google or Bing search of the law firm you’re looking at will often reveal a lot of information. People are generally much quicker to complain than praise, and if there’s anything wrong about your potential lawyer or their firm, it’ll pop up in an online search.

Content – Do they produce informative content (blogs, articles, case studies, FAQ’s) to educate their clients about Probate? It should be standard for any firm worth their salt.

Biographical information – Including law schools, undergraduate degrees, years in professional practice. 

References – Ask to speak with any former clients who can give you a clear understanding of what to expect. The law firm shouldn’t hesitate to comply. 

Payment – The agreement should be boilerplate and easy to understand. Ask for a copy of the agreement and that the lawyer explain it to you. Probate should be set at a fixed fee. Litigation is a different story. Be sure you understand how payment works before you commit to a probate lawyer. 

Specific Requirements – Do you have any special requirements or circumstances? If so, this might require a specific skill set. An example will be if you require any language skills other than English or any other mitigating circumstances. Be sure to communicate this clearly to your lawyer before you move ahead.

Questions To Ask Your Probate Lawyer

Most of the questions you have should be answered in the law firms FAQ Section, but it’s always a good idea to ask your lawyer these questions in person or on the phone:

  1. As the executor, which parts of probate can I do on my own without the help of a lawyer should I choose to do so? 
  2. The estate owns property outside Queensland territory. Can you handle the probate process? 
  3. If I have a co-executor, but they don’t want to deal with the estate, can I get the job done myself? 

These are just some examples of questions you could ask but use your judgement and don’t be scared to ask questions; probate lawyers should be happy to oblige.

In our opinion, a good probate lawyer should: 

  • Remain objective and listen when you speak,
  • Take both a commercial and practical approach when advising you on probate, 
  • Be focused on getting the job done as fast and efficiently as possible. No tit-for-tat argument but a clear common goal of getting the job done. 

If you’re unsure about your next steps concerning Probate, you can Contact Us Directly to speak about your requirements. 

Read More About The Probate Process In QLD:
Probate: A Definitive Guide To Navigating Probate in Queensland

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