Legal & Estate Guidance
The passing of a family member brings more than sorrow; it also brings many legal issues to the foreground.
The information provided here can guide you in dealing with legalities.
We have some suggestions to help you find the best attorney to provide the kind of legal services you need:
- Think specialization. You don't need just any attorney; you're looking for someone with experience in a particular aspect of the law.
- Ask around. There's nothing like a personal referral from someone you trust. Talk to friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors to see if they can recommend an attorney with the right expertise.
- Get in touch with the local Bar Association. It will have directory of all practicing lawyers in your area.
- Visit legal aid websites. These organizations can provide you with trusted referrals and legal consultation services.
The Next Step in Getting Legal Help
- Do you specialize in my type of case?
- Do you have any special credentials?
- Exactly who will handle my case; the attorney or a paralegal?
- Who will be my point-of-contact?
- What's the preferred way to communicate with your office?
- Will I be billed for phone calls and email correspondence with either the attorney or staff?
- How will I be informed about any progress in my case?
- How will fees be calculated? Hourly, contingency, or flat fee? If I will be billed hourly, will I be required to pay for portions of an hour?
- What expenses am I responsible for?
- How often can I expect to receive a bill?
- Is advance payment required? What happens to that money if I terminate the case before it's resolved?
- Will I receive copies of all documents pertaining to my case?
Hiring an Attorney
At this point, you should have a list of four or five recommended local attorneys. Now it's time to make that first call. You should first ask to set up a face-to-face meeting but be aware that many attorneys charge for this introductory session. That's why your first question should be: "Do you charge for the initial visit?"
- Liz Davidson, "How to Find a Good Lawyer When You Really Need One"
- Consumer Reports, "When You Need to Lawyer Up"
- Henry, Alan, "How to Find a Reputable Lawyer"
What is Probate?
The Probate Process
- Identifying and inventorying the deceased's personal and real property
- Having the property appraised
- Paying debts and taxes
- Distributing the remaining property as the will (or if there is no will, then state law) directs
What Happens When There is No Will?
All this can be avoided, if you take care of things ahead of time. When you leave documents that clearly state who you wish to get your property and cash after you die, you better support your survivors in coming to terms with your death without leaving them with a lot of unnecessary distress.
Hiring an Attorney
When faced with this situation, it's best to turn to the experts in estate settlement.