Do I Need an Attorney to Probate an Estate?

Probably.  Estate matters are, as a legal proposition, moderately complex.  The paperwork is substantial.  Disgruntled beneficiaries can create complexities that may require experience to resolve.  There are tax returns to file, and tax decisions to make that may be beyond the competence of many.  There may be heirs to identify, who may be spread around the planet.  Probates often involve sale of real property, in which one should always involve an attorney.  Some probates involve property in other states or countries.  Since the pitfalls are many, professional advice and assistance seems a good investment.  It is the job of the Personal Representative’s attorney to keep the Personal Representative out of legal difficulty and help her process the probate with diligence.

On the other hand, persons who have previously handled probates may be able to manage another, especially if the probate in question presents no particular oddities.  Also, persons of special skills or those with a great deal of time on their hands who are looking for a challenge might manage a probate adequately.

When considering an attorney, choose one who returns calls, seems trustworthy and approachable, and has probate experience in the local county where you intend to file the decedent’s probate.