One of the most popular things clients look for in a probate attorney is location, preferably a “probate lawyer near me”. Well, here are six reasons I’d want a probate lawyer near me, plus one big reason I’d choose a probate attorney even hundreds of miles away from me.
These are the reasons I might choose a probate lawyer near me:
Probate matters are highly personal, and many clients want to interview a potential probate attorney in-person before choosing to work with them. A probate attorney is an important ally throughout the probate process, and you need to feel comfortable with their ability, experience, and devotion to your best interests. While these things are much easier to gauge during an in-person interview, versus over the phone or via email. Plus, technologies like FaceTime and Skype have made it easier to have more personal interactions when in-person meetings just aren’t possible..
Clear, Personal Communication
Like any relationship, the relationship with your probate attorney requires clear communication that meets both parties’ expectations. Probate is a highly emotional process that can involve many nuances. Family relationships, sibling relationships, coveted family possessions. These are all things that lead to conversations which may be hard to communicate properly via email or even the phone. Sometimes you just need to sit down with someone and have a face-to-face meeting. Luckily again, FaceTime and Skype have made videoconferencing a viable option where it was previously was not.
Your probate attorney is going to be relying on the documents and information you provide. Obviously, it’s easier to stop by a local probate attorney’s offices that are near your home or office, when you need to drop off documents. From last will and testaments and death certificates, to credit card bills and real estate appraisals, there are any number of documents you may be providing, or that your attorney may like you to review. And when required, technology and electronic records/record-keeping have made virtual meetings an option, even in document-intensive cases.
Local County Probate Court Knowledge
Your probate attorney will need to be familiar with the processes of the local county probate court (for example, Los Angeles Superior Court.) Knowing what the probate examiners prefer, when probate notes are posted, and how to get probate notes cleared fast. This is not to say that someone outside the area can’t learn these things, but it is unlikely to be at their fingertips.
It likely would cost you less to work with a local probate attorney nearby. Working with a local probate attorney means less travel time, fewer travel costs, and a faster process overall. Time is money. Probate is no exception.
Real Estate Appraisals and Personal Property Appraisals
You may need to have the decedent’s real estate or other personal property, such as jewelry or art, appraised. A local probate attorney will already have established relationships with local appraisers. That should help your local probate attorney complete the appraisal process faster and cheaper.
Here is one big reason I would choose a probate lawyer farther away from me:
Choose a Probate Lawyer in the Decedent’s State or County
If I lived in Dallas, and my loved one, the decedent, died in their home in Los Angeles, I would definitely want a probate lawyer familiar with California probate law. Not only that, but the lawyer would need to be licensed in California, which my local Dallas lawyer may not be. If the deceased left a very large estate that required a lot of local work, it would be even more important to work with a Los Angeles probate attorney.
Probate is a complicated, time-consuming process based upon a substantial California Probate Code that is complimented by inconsistent and varying local rules. Hiring a probate attorney will make the probate process much easier for you, and all probate process costs should be deferred until the estate is ready to be distributed to its beneficiaries. That means you should pay no money out of pocket, in most cases, and the attorney does not get paid until you get your inheritance.