Our law office does a good deal of probate work for clients.  Probate can broadly be defined as the administration of an individual’s estate following their death. This may occur whether the person had a Will (referred to as ‘testate’) or without a Will (referred to as ‘intestate’).  The individual responsible for conducting the estate administration, usually an adult relative, is known as the ‘executor’ or most commonly as the Personal Representative (“PR”).

A great and common question if you are named in a Will (‘testate’) as a PR, or see yourself likely assuming the PR role, is whether it is possible to do a probate without an attorney.  That answer would be “YES”.  However, in representing individuals on probates, there are important reasons to consider hiring an attorney.

First, probate is very formal– meaning there are a lot of requirements and timelines.  It’s not that probate is, as they say, rocket science. It’s just the fact that there are so many steps and pieces of paperwork, that it’s nice to hand off much of the pressure to a law firm who does this work frequently.

Second, Personal Representatives are often in the unenviable position that they can be legally responsible to creditors and beneficiaries for the proper administration of the probate.  At the same time, while a Personal Representative is entitled to reimbursement of expenses, as well as reasonable compensation for efforts, the latter is not frequently requested of a PR, as they often feel guilty to ask.  Often, other family members are more than happy to watch them do all the work and take the responsibility, but then might ‘squawk’ if compensation is asked.

Finally, continuing on the disgruntled family theme, sometimes there is what I call the ‘raging bull in the china shop’ family member.  You can picture the one.  They enjoy being the armchair quarterback (have I thrown in too many clichés?) watching the PR work, only too happy to criticize.  PR’s often appreciate the ability to tell that individual to ‘ask the attorney.’ Usually one such deferral to the attorney takes the steam out of the bull and defuses the situation.

Call Dahlberg Law Office, P.A., if you have any more questions or would like us to handle your probate.

(218) 722-5809

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