When sitting down with a lawyer, you want to know how they can help you before you agree to pay the. Your Denver probate attorney should not only provide you with value for the money that you are paying, but they should also help ensure that your case goes as smoothly as it possibly can. It is ok to ask the lawyer a battery of questions before you retain them because, after all, probate involved the property that people will inherit and you need to know that you will be in good hands. With that in mind, here are five questions to ask your Denver probate attorney.
What types of representation do you offer?
There are two ways that you can hire a Denver probate attorney. You can retain counsel in order to fully represent you if your case does go to probate. When this happens, they will handle mostly everything and all that you need to do is supply them with the information that they need to make the required filings. If you were thinking of retaining a lawyer, but feel like the cost is out of your budget, you can also hire the probate attorney for a more limited engagement where they will coach and advise you throughout the process. Of course, it is always best to have a lawyer handle the entire probate process for you given the possible complexity and delay. In any event, you should always have some form of legal input during probate because this is something that you simply cannot handle on your own without some degree of expertise.
What Fee Arrangements Do you Offer?
Probate attorneys may be able to offer you different types of fee arrangements. Some probate attorneys may be willing to charge you a flat fee of a certain percentage of the estate, and they will be required to honor this arrangement no matter how much effort they are required to expend for the case. However, you need to check the laws of the state to verify that this is legally permissible because it is allowed in only a handful of states. They can also charge you a flat fee for the entire case. This shifts the risk to the lawyer if the case turns out to grow more complex along the way. Finally, most lawyers who do probate work will work on an hourly basis. If you pay your attorney on an hourly basis, it is critical to verify that the attorney has the experience that matches their hourly rate.
For the client, the fee arrangement that you choose can dictate your stress level. Some clients may hesitate to email or call their attorney knowing that they will incur a cost when the attorney reads and responds to their email. The flat fee means that you do not have to worry about running up a bill when you have a simple question for the attorney that can put your mind at ease.
How Long Will the Case Take?
This is the question that everyone wants to know when they meet with a probate attorney. Probate has a reputation for being time consuming and frustrating. When clients talk to the attorney, they are looking for an assurance that they will not be the ones who have a lengthy probate process. Unfortunately, your Denver probate attorney cannot give you that assurance, but it is reasonable to expect the attorney to be able to give you a general estimate of the timeline of the case. This would include a best-case scenario and a worst case scenario. Either way, it helps to go into a case armed with more information.
What Can Go Wrong During the Case?
Probate is a process that can be fraught with legal peril. In the best case scenario, your case can make it through the process fairly quickly with a minimum of hassle. However, it is best to understand going into the case what can happen that may delay the probate process. When you approach a case realistically with an understanding of the possible pitfalls, you are better prepared for what may happen in the future. In addition, knowing the worst-case scenario may also keep you from making errors during the probate process that can slow down your case even more. You will actually want your probate attorney to be honest and realistic with you and tell you the possible difficulties that you may face so that you are not surprised in case they do occur. Receiving an overly rosy picture from the attorney does not serve your best interests. Some of the problems that the lawyer should list are contesting of the will, creditors coming forward and an inability to locate assets.
What Is Your Expertise?
Before you hire an attorney, you want to know that they have the experience and the skill necessary to handle your case. When a mistake is made during probate, it increases the chances that your case can be delayed. You will not want to leave your case to someone who does not have the specialized knowledge to help you. Probate is a very technical process with firm deadlines. Further, all forms need to be filled out correctly. You should get the sense that your probate attorney is actually a probate attorney rather than a practitioner of another area of law simply trying to earn an extra buck by taking a case in an unfamiliar and new area. Here, you want a dedicated expert in the field in order to ensure that your probate case goes as smoothly as possible. It is also helpful to know the attorney’s experience in this particular jurisdiction and court.
Get to know what you are facing. The more you know about the probate process, the more peace of mind you may have.