Useful information to help guide
your probate process

'What Should I Look for in a Probate Pro?'

When it comes to finding an attorney with experience and expertise in matters relating to estate planning, estate administration, and probate, a degree up on a wall is one thing.

But, in many cases, it’s important to dig deeper than that to find the pro who’s right for you.

Finding the legal professional or team that is the right fit for you can be tricky – particularly when it comes to such a delicate matter. Here are a few questions you may want to ask in order to find the probate pro who is right for your needs:

“What Is Their Level of Expertise?”

Does this probate attorney (or their team) have a working knowledge of all aspects of this sometimes-complicated process? Are they probate and estate specialists? Have they worked with clients in similar situations to yours before?

As you search for an attorney, it may be productive to ask yourself questions such as:

  • Is this attorney’s office easy to find online? Do I like the look and feel of their website?
  • Do they have many positive testimonials or referrals, as a firm or as individual lawyers?
  • Are they forthcoming with information and educational content?
  • Can I get a sense of their personal expertise and philosophy – and does it jibe with my own?

As you interview potential attorneys and try to select the professional who may be right for you, you may also wish to consider asking some of the following questions:

  • Have you handled probate cases before? How many?
  • How do you charge? (For instance, by the hour, flat rate, or some other way?)
  • Will you be willing to work with me if I try to take on some of the probate work myself?
  • How long, roughly, do you imagine this process will take?

“Am I Compatible With Them?”

Whether you’re beginning the process of estate planning or carrying out the last wishes of a loved one as an executor or trustee, it’s important to work with an attorney that you can get along with.

Even in the best of circumstances, the probate process can be lengthy and trying, and finding the right partner for the long-term is a crucial piece of the puzzle. As you sit down with potential candidates, ask yourself:

  • Do you like their communication style? For instance, do they toss around a lot of jargon, or keep it simple?
  • Are they flexible when it comes to setting up meetings? Can they work with your schedule, within reason?
  • Are you comfortable spending time with the attorney and/or her team?
  • Do they seem genuinely interested in you and your unique situation – or are they treating you like just another paycheck?

All of these questions matter! You may need to work in close proximity with your attorney (and their staff) for some time, and trust them to take on complicated matters that you may be unable to handle yourself.

“Are They Accommodating to My Needs?”

During the probate process, emotions can run high. And as the day-to-day stresses of estate administration and probate – including paying debts, filing paperwork, closing and managing accounts, and handling property – add up, it may become increasingly important to realize what you can tackle on your own, and what you’ll need to hand off to your attorney.

With all this being said, it may prove vital to work with an attorney who can be accommodating to your needs – albeit within reason.

For instance, you may need to get referrals from third party professionals, such as assessors or insurance agents; will your attorney help put you in contact with someone in their network? Similarly, there are many aspects to the probate process that you might want to handle yourself, to help minimize costs; is your attorney going to be respectful of your attempts to educate yourself and take some matters into your own hands?

At the same time, it’s important to work with an attorney whom you can trust to handle things independently, and who will always be willing to give you the honest truth, rather than simply saying what they think you may want to hear.

Happy hunting!

Chicago Probate Law serves clients in matters pertaining to estate planning, wills and trusts, power of attorney, probate and estate administration, and more. Our mission is to guide you through every step of the probate process with compassion and clarity, ensuring that you feel supported and informed from beginning to end. Don’t hesitate to contact us directly for a conversation.

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