How Do I Find a Good Probate Attorney? (Transcript)
D. "Rep" DeLoach III, Estate Planning and Board Certified Elder Law Attorney
When looking for a good attorney, really think about going to the internet. And when you're looking at the internet, you want to look for certain things. You probably want to look for good client reviews to make sure that law firm, and that attorney has gotten good reviews from past experience clients. And typically, people are very free at leaving that information on the internet nowadays.
But once you've seen that this person has good reviews, then you really want to make for sure they do certain things, is you want to make sure they do probate and that's one of the main things that they focus on. You don't want to have an attorney that's criminal law, and family law, and bankruptcy law, and then they also do probate, what you probably want to do is get a good attorney who specializes in probate and that's almost all they do. They typically would do only estate planning, elder law, and then probate is a typical good attorney, because that's what they specialize in.
You don't necessarily want to go to an attorney that does a lot of different things. You want to go to an attorney that does just certain things. So if they have good reviews and they specialize in the probate process, that's going to be important. The other thing you would look for is at how long that attorney's been practicing. So a good probate attorneys picks up things and how to do things, tips and traps and things like that, that a good attorney will be able to help avoid. So maybe not a attorney that hasn't been practice taking that long, but maybe a law firm that's been around for a long period of time as well.
You'd also want to make sure, how does the billing get paid with the attorney? Now, many attorneys do a flat fee billing based upon the size of the decedent's estate. But some attorneys also do hourly billing. So there's different ways an attorney would bill. But you'd want to make sure whoever you hire, you talk with upfront is how the billing practice is going to work. Are you expected to pay them a retainer? What about being costs as a down payment? How's it all going to work?
Well, a good attorney will have a good process and procedures in place to make sure the estate is not spending too much money, and making sure that the family gets taken care of. But also you want to make sure the personal representative, the executor, has a good partner to work with as part of the probate process, because a good attorney is going to help make it easier for the person that's hiring them to walk them through the process.