What is a probate attorney?
Most often, a probate attorney represents the Personal Representative of the estate. The Personal Representative (PR) is responsible for handling all the matters necessary to wrap up an estate. Often, a person named to serve as the PR is not familiar with all of the actions to take or how to accomplish certain tasks. The PR hires an attorney to advise, prepare, serve and file all necessary court documents, and to work with the PR to get everything done.
The second role of a probate attorney may be representing other parties to the probate action. While it is commonly said that the attorney is “the attorney for the estate,” the Personal Representative is the true client, and the attorney is advising the PR. An attorney representing the PR generally cannot represent the other heirs of an estate, but rather represents only the PR and the handling of the estate. Accordingly, if a conflict arises, the other heirs would hire a separate attorney to represent their interests.
Why would you need a probate attorney?
The person named as the Personal Representative for an estate is legally responsible for accurately and completely administering the estate. In fact, the PR has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the estate heirs, and breach of that duty could result in personal liability to the PR. People hire a probate attorney when they need or want assistance and guidance in carrying out their duties.
How much does a probate attorney cost?
Attorneys offer different fee structures. I charge an hourly fee for representing clients in probate matters. Because each estate presents a different level of complexity and because of the uncertainty which may arise, there is no one answer to this question. After the initial consultation, I would be able to give you an estimate of the expected cost.