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Five Qualities You Need in Your Probate Attorney

12/15/2022 | Probate

Dealing with the loss of a loved one while having to manage the details of their estate can be overwhelming, especially when you don’t know where to begin. Without guidance, you could miss important deadlines and make crucial mistakes. Fortunately, with the expert advice of a California probate attorney, you can minimize the stress of the situation and ensure your loved one’s estate is properly managed.  However, not all attorneys are created equal, and it’s vital that you choose your counsel wisely.

What is a Probate Attorney?

A California probate attorney is a type of lawyer who specializes in handling the legal matters that arise when a person passes away. Specifically, a probate attorney is well-versed in the laws concerning wills and estates and the procedures of the probate court. When a person dies with a will or without one (intestate), his or her estate will be distributed by the probate court. There are several phases and requirements during probate, and someone who is unfamiliar with them could easily miss a step. A probate attorney understands the complex laws and court procedures that surround the probate process and can assist beneficiaries, personal representatives, and other parties.

 What does a Probate Attorney do?

A probate attorney makes sure that creditors and beneficiaries are properly notified of the status of the probate estate and that debts are paid. State law requires that specific steps are taken according to a timeline. A probate attorney ensures that the necessary tasks are correctly completed and in a timely manner. Probate attorneys can perform services such as assisting loved ones and personal representatives with wills. These lawyers can also represent parties when there are disputes over testamentary documents. Here are five qualities you need in your probate attorney:

  1. California Probate Experience
    There are thousands of licensed attorneys in the state.  However, it’s essential that you work with an attorney who has substantial experience practicing California probate law. California’s probate law is complicated and has several complex procedural requirements. Additionally, this is an ever-evolving legal area, and an experienced California probate attorney will be up to date on the latest changes to the statutes and case law developments. Further, an attorney who has practiced extensively in this area will have full knowledge of the estate code, as well as the nuances of the local court. Each probate court has its own legal culture, and when a lawyer has experience, he or she can gain the critical insight that is needed to practice according to a court’s preferences.  By contrast, an inexperienced attorney could easily miss critical issues that could delay or even harm your case and add to your legal costs.
  2. Compassion and Understanding
    While having counsel who is experienced with California probate law and familiar with the local courts is vital, you also want to work with someone who is emotionally intelligent. Being rushed in and out of an attorney’s office when you are grieving the loss of a loved one is not appropriate. Your attorney should be able to express empathy and concern for you and what you are going through. You want to feel that the California probate attorney you have chosen can manage your case with compassion and understanding for your circumstances.
  3. Professionalism
    In a California probate case, the court’s impression of you is projected by your counsel. You want your attorney to make a positive impression and to be professional with others involved in the case. Further, your probate attorney should be prompt when meeting with you and display professionalism during your interactions. When you work with an organized person, who appears in court on time, is prepared, and communicates appropriately with you, court personnel, and the judge, it shows courtesy and reflects well upon your case.
  4. Effective Communication
    Effective communication is another essential quality you need in your California probate attorney. Your chosen representative should be able to explain themselves to you clearly and answer your questions in a way you can comprehend. Your California probate attorney should also be reasonably prompt in responding to your calls and emails. Additionally, any communications he or she sends to the probate court need to be coherent and organized.
  5. Expertise
    When a California probate attorney is devoted to his or her practice area, they become known in the community for their work. An attorney with expertise has usually prepared articles and offered community seminars on California probate and related subjects. Your attorney should have a reputation as being a dedicated professional with decades of experience in probate law. When you choose a California probate attorney with expertise, you are working with someone who is devoted to this practice area and is prepared to manage any issue.

At the Law Offices of Alice  A. Salvo, we are dedicated, professional, California probate attorneys with over 37 years of combined experience and the expertise you need to assist you with your probate matter. Please contact us online or by phone to start your solution.