According to Caring, most Americans agree that it is important to draft a will during their lives. But, very few actually do so.
Having a will and planning your finances ahead in time is vital. This ensures that no disagreements arise regarding an individual’s legal, economic, or social affairs upon their death. A survey conducted in the U.S. also substantiated the importance of wills and estate planning.
According to Caring, most Americans agree that it is important to draft a will during their lives. But, very few actually do so. In fact, over 57 percent of adults do not possess the required estate planning documents! Additionally, over 71 percent of people have not updated their wills to reflect their current financial standing!
Whether you wish to draft your own estate plan or were named a beneficiary/executor [Editor’s note: in some jurisdictions, “executor” has been replaced with “personal representative.”] in the estate of your loved one, you will require a professional probate lawyer to handle the dealings.
Types of Probate Lawyers
Distinctly, there are two kinds of probate lawyers. This includes transactional lawyers and administrative lawyers. While transactional probate lawyers are responsible for handling administrative matters, a litigator is required to represent clients in lawsuits.
When looking for an estate planning attorney in Plano, you must decide which type of probate lawyer you need. If your loved one has recently passed away and you wish to start the probate process only, you should ideally hire a transactional attorney.
On the other hand, if your loved one has already left behind a will, but you are unhappy with how the current executor is handling the process, you can hire a litigator for upcoming legal battles.
Qualities to Look For
Regardless of which type of probate lawyer you hire, there are certain qualities you should look for when selecting the attorney. Here are some traits the best probate lawyers should have.
1. Knowledge and Expertise
Never opt for a probate lawyer who is just starting out. This does not mean that a fresh lawyer might not be a good one. No one can be a good judge of someone’s skill. However, the fact remains that in every field, there is a lot that you learn on the job.
With every case a probate lawyer deals with, they get the required experience to flourish in their careers. For you, this translates into better handling of your case. So, one of the best qualities to look for in a probate lawyer is experience and knowledge.
Make sure that the attorney you choose is knowledgeable regarding the various facets of estate planning. It is also better to hire a lawyer who has a practice of handling courtroom sessions, even if there is a slight chance that your probate case will go to court.
2. Effective communication
One of the most basic, yet vital qualities to have in any lawyer, including a probate attorney, is effective communication. This is because every aspect of the job requires the individual to communicate with others. This includes talking to the executor, to the court, and to the client.
Now, the world of law can be quite complex for the layman. It is not easy to understand the technical term and processes. You don’t just need a probate lawyer who is able to communicate well on your behalf in front of a judge or an executor.
Instead, you also need someone who is able to explain the probate process to you in a simple and straightforward way. They should be able to answer all your queries and confusions so that you understand the process inside and out.
Why is this important?
Well, since the case pertains to you, for the sake of your betterment, it is essential that you have a firm understanding of what is happening instead of completely relying on a third person.
Losing a loved one is very hard. The closer the relationship is, the more difficult it is for you and your family. At such a time, estate planning and probate might seem like the least of your concerns. Yet, these issues need to be resolved swiftly.
It is essential that the lawyers handling this case are empathetic and understanding of the mental and emotional condition of their clients. In case you are named the executor of the estate of the deceased individual, the chances are that you are very stressed out about the entire situation.
Here, you need an attorney who knows when to step in on your behalf and when to step aside and give you space. Only a person who has a high emotional intelligence can know how to strike the right balance between their responsibility towards your case and empathy towards the people involved.
Also, depending on the executor, the amount of help required from probate lawyers can vary. While some people need their attorneys to handle it all, others like doing it all themselves and merely using their attorneys for the complex parts of the case. A quality probate lawyer will understand this and should only be willing to help or step in when there is a need to do so.
Settling an estate is not a piece of cake. Depending on the nature of the case and the number of relatives and creditors that lay claims on the estate and dispute the will of your loved one, the probate process can get quite murky and stressful.
You need a probate lawyer who believes in perseverance. He/she should stick by you through thick and thin and not disappear mid-air without finding a solution to the issues that you are facing. They should be able to deliver workable solutions and guidelines for resolving any dispute that may arise.
One thing you should look for in any type of lawyer is integrity. Legal proceedings can be very murky and unethical. However, if you believe in upholding your moral values throughout the proceedings (as you should), you must hire a lawyer who has the same belief system as you.
Research a given probate lawyer. See whether they have instances of resorting to dishonest means just to win a case or to speed up the process. Understand that such shortcuts are not just unethical, but can also lead to serious legal implications if caught.
All in all, hiring the right probate lawyer is not a difficult task if you know what you need to look for. Seek these five core qualities in your attorney, and you will be good to go.