Questions To Ask a Probate Attorney

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“What questions to ask a probate attorney? If you want to administer a loved one’s estate after they pass away, you need to hire a probate lawyer who will guide you through the legal process. To be sure that you make the right choice, you need to find an experienced, knowledgeable, and trustworthy probate attorney.”

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Questions To Ask a Probate Attorney

Probate law can be complicated and confusing, so finding a knowledgeable, professional, and dedicated lawyer is essential. Asking the right questions about your potential probate attorney is critical to making the right choice. If you’re considering hiring a probate attorney, there are several questions to ask a probate attorney.


Is It Necessary To Hire A Probate Attorney?

Generally, a probate attorney will be required by most counties to represent you in probate court. This is a California law requirement, as only attorneys can represent others in probate court. As the estate’s representative, you represent yourself, other heirs, and creditors.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, including probates in some smaller counties that don’t enforce this requirement or estates where you are the only beneficiary.


Questions for Probate Attorney/Questions to Ask a Probate Lawyer 

What Questions To Ask A Probate Attorney? If you are thinking about hiring a probate attorney, here are some questions to ask attorney about probate:


What documents will I need/What to bring to first meeting with probate attorney?

It is essential to ask this question before your first meeting. Not having all the documentation required for your probate questions could lead to delays.

When you schedule your first meeting, ask the attorney what information you should bring. Usually, the required information includes:

  • Certificate of death
  • The probate court already has an original or a secondary copy of the deceased’s last will.
  • Other documents in the probate court may be already on file.
  • Each beneficiary’s name and address appear in the will.
  • A copy of all bills or other financial obligations that the deceased owed
  • A copy of the dead’s property deeds
  • Include all recent financial statements regarding the deceased, such as bank accounts, life insurance policies, retirement funds, and investment accounts.


What is the Probate Process?

It would be best to have a basic understanding of what’s happening. The attorney will explain everything from start to finish in the upcoming probate process. When should the documents be filed? Who should be present or involved, and when? Most importantly, how long does your lawyer expect the process to take? The answer could range from six months to a year, depending on the estate size.

There are even some who question the need for probate. Unfortunately, not every state requires it, but it’s still worth it if you want to safeguard your estate from future problems.


What Are the Responsibilities of an Executor?

Typically, the executor of a will meets with a probate attorney after the death of a loved one. As part of the executor’s duties, the attorney should explain what the executor should do, such as managing estate assets, paying outstanding bills, and distributing the estate’s assets. As a result, the attorney should explain what fiduciary duty means for executors.


What is the procedure for dealing with creditors?

In your first meeting, ask the estate’s creditors how the proceeds will be used to pay outstanding financial obligations and bills. Typically, creditors are entitled to a share of the estate’s proceeds before the distribution of other assets. The executor may need to sell the property if there are insufficient assets to pay creditors.

The executor of an estate must ensure creditors receive payment per the law before closing the estate. This is something many people need to realize; however, a probate attorney can assist in providing the executor with this information to handle creditors by the law.


If Someone Mismanages the Estate, What Do I Do?

There are times when beneficiaries or others suspect the named executor is mismanaging the assets of an estate when they meet with the probate attorney.

The probate process is complex, so you’ll need a knowledgeable attorney to help you take swift action when this occurs. It is essential to move quickly to protect the estate from misuse, but it is also crucial to be sure of your suspicions and is able to back them up.

If you wish to challenge an executor’s handling of an estate, talk to your probate attorney. Ask what you should prepare beforehand.


Do you have any experience with probate law?

You should determine how much experience your attorney has in probate law by asking them how many probate cases he or they have handled, how long they have been practicing probate law, and if they have handled similar cases. The attorney you choose needs to be knowledgeable and experienced enough to navigate your situation, so you should feel confident in their ability.

While attorney professionalism rules generally prohibit attorneys from referring to themselves as specialists in specific issues or matters, probate attorneys often specialize in particular topics.

Attorneys may specialize in estates that will face litigation, estates with minor heirs and guardianships, estates with significant investments or business assets, or estates with substantial tax issues. Hiring a lawyer specializing in probate may be helpful in these non-standard estates.


How do you handle probate cases?

What questions to ask a probate lawyer? There is no one right way to handle probate cases. Your potential attorney should understand how they approach your case and determine whether it aligns with your goals and expectations. Some attorneys may be more aggressive, while others may be more collaborative.


How do you handle probate cases?


You can feel more confident in the attorney’s ability to handle any conflict that may arise if you know how they take conflicts. You should inquire about a potential attorney’s past litigation and conflict resolution experiences and how they resolved those cases. Ask them about their conflict resolution philosophy if you consider mediation, arbitration, or litigation to resolve disputes.


Questions to ask during probate: What are your fees?

Before hiring a probate attorney, ask about their fees and make sure you understand how they will appear on your bill. Fees vary widely based on the case’s complexity and the attorney’s experience.

You should inquire about any additional costs or expenses associated with your case. The fee for an attorney may depend on whether they charge by the hour or percentage of the estate’s value.

Attorneys who handle probate cases typically charge fees for their services. However, they can set their rates as long as their costs are reasonable under the rules of attorney professionalism.

In determining whether the fee is reasonable, the attorney must consider the time, labor, and skill required to perform the legal service correctly and whether the attorney is sacrificing other work to assist the client.

The court can determine whether attorney fees are reasonable independent administrations. Several hourly rates established by the courts are considered valid. These rates appear in written policies on the court’s website. The Harris County Probate Courts set hourly rates based on the attorney’s experience handling probate and guardianship matters.

For example, a Harris County Probate Court sets hourly fees based on an attorney’s experience with probate and guardianship matters. Currently, the top rate is $350. The court does not govern independent administrations. Attorneys and their clients can negotiate any reasonable fee structure. For example, they can use fixed, hourly, or contingent fees.


Fees per hour

You can expect to pay an attorney’s fee between $300 and $500 per hour. Your attorney’s experience and the complexity of your case will determine the costs you will pay. Before hiring an attorney, asking them how many hours they expect to work on your case is essential.


Fees fixed

Some attorneys may charge flat fees, meaning they will only charge one rate regardless of the hours spent on your case. Finding flat fees in probate situations is less common, but they may be an option sometimes.


Fees on contingency

Some attorneys may charge a contingency fee. As a result, you will only have to pay the attorney if you win your case. Although contingency fees frequently appear in personal injury cases, others can benefit from them.



The average attorney will charge a flat fee or hourly rate in addition to the costs associated with your case. Often, these costs are high. Ask an attorney about them when you talk to them about your case. They can include things like filing fees and expert witness fees.


During the process, how will you communicate with me?

What probate questions to ask? Effective communication is crucial during the probate process. If you are considering hiring an attorney, make sure you know how they prefer to communicate with you (e.g., by email, by phone, in person). Also, determine how often they will update you on your case status. And ask who else will work on it at their office.

Establishing expectations regarding how often your probate attorney will contact you throughout the process is crucial to creating a successful attorney-client relationship.

You should understand how frequently your attorney intends to communicate with you and how they prefer to share with you.

First, establish your primary contact. Also, identify your point of contact. Could this be your attorney directly or a member of their team? Knowing where to go with questions and concerns will make communication clear and efficient.


How long will it take you to complete the probate process?

The probate process can take several months or even years to conclude. Before you hire an attorney, it is essential to ask them for an estimated timeline and if there are any potential roadblocks or delays.

Probation cases in California usually take more than six months to process through the court system. If there is no will, the attorney investigates whether heirs are missing or excluded).


Has the California State Bar ever disciplined you?

You can inspect an attorney’s disciplinary history by visiting the State Bar of California website. Verifying an attorney’s disciplinary history is essential. Ensure you look for corrective actions or complaints filed against the attorney before hiring them.


How Does Hiring a Probate Attorney Benefit You?

If you need to hire a probate attorney, you shouldn’t view your engagement from this perspective. Hiring a probate attorney does have its perks.

Consult a probate lawyer to help you through the complicated probate and estate administration procedure. They will ensure your loved one’s final wishes come true and resolve any possible disputes.

Probate attorneys can help you with several things. For example, they can get your case moving in the right direction when it is stuck. They can also help you find contacts for cleaning and selling your home. They can also help you find investors for your property and connect with funding sources.

Additionally, to provide legal expertise and practical skills, probate attorneys can offer emotional support during this difficult time. When a loved one passes away, do not attempt to handle probate on your own. Hire a California probate lawyer to assist you.


Finding a Good California Probate Attorney

Remembering a few things when finding a good probate lawyer in California is essential. So, What questions to ask a probate attorney/ What questions to ask a probate lawyer before hiring? You must ensure that the attorney you hire has experience and knowledge of handling probate cases in California. It is advisable to seek suggestions from family members or friends who have recently completed the probate procedure in California.

The probate process in California requires finding someone you feel comfortable working with. Finding a probate attorney you feel comfortable working with is significant. This is especially true if you anticipate any conflict during the probate process. You must be confident in their abilities. This will ensure your attorney effectively represents your interests and advocates for you.



When hiring a California probate lawyer, questions to ask probate lawyer and ensure they are experienced and knowledgeable in probate law. If you have friends or family members who have used a probate lawyer in the past, be sure to ask them for a referral. The best way to get the most value is to shop around and compare prices before hiring an attorney.

The attorney professionalism rules say a fee must be reasonable, but they can set their rates for probate attorneys. To determine whether a fee is appropriate, it is necessary to consider the time and labor involved. The questions to ask probate attorney involved are novel and complex. Performing the legal service properly requires skill. The attorney’s commitment to assisting the client takes precedence over other work.

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