Probate Lawyer – When a person passes away, their assets must be distributed in a manner consistent with state laws and following the directions they put forth when they were alive, as stated in their will.

Probate Lawyer
Probate Lawyer

A probate lawyer guides the executor of the will or beneficiaries of an estate through the probate process, from identifying estate assets and beneficiaries to distributing assets and inheritances.

Probate Lawyer

It is very hard to deal with the loss of a loved one. There are many memories and emotions to process right after they are laid to rest. In the midst of all that, the last thing anybody wants is to encounter the stress of the probate process. In some cases, a probate lawyer can simplify the process.

Who Is a Probate Lawyer?

A probate lawyer is an attorney who facilitates the legal process regarding the distribution of estate assets upon a person’s death. This kind of lawyer is there to ensure that the inheritance is assigned fairly and according to the decedent’s wishes, at least if their wishes have been made known in the form of a will.

In addition, they help solve the issue of how the deceased’s remaining debts will be paid off. Before we go into more details about probate lawyers, let’s explain some key terminology used in probate law.


This is a legal process in which a will is analyzed to determine whether it is valid or invalid. Probate also means the management of a dead person’s will or the estate of a dead person who doesn’t have a will.


This refers to the person who wrote the will.


A will is a binding legal document. It gives a testator the right to administer an estate and monitor the disposal of the beneficiaries. This document is regarded as proof of the testator’s wishes to be followed upon their death.


An estate refers to the money and property of an individual at death.


This term refers to the person appointed in the will to be the personal representative of the dead person. Their responsibility is to follow and execute the instructions given in the will.


This refers to the relationship between a trustee and a beneficiary of an estate.


If someone dies testate, it means they drafted a will before their death. While dying intestate means that the person didn’t leave a will behind.


Renunciation is an official proclamation by an individual renouncing their right to administer the estate of a deceased relative.


This individual is also referred to as a personal representative. They have the same role as the executor but are appointed if the decedent didn’t leave a will.


This term is used to refer to the person who died.


Any person or organization set to inherit the decedent’s assets is referred to as a beneficiary.


This is the person who challenges a will due to the belief that certain factors influenced the decedent’s decision.

Pretermitted Heir

In cases where the decedent’s spouse or child was left out of the will and the court determines that this person is a rightful heir, they are referred to as a pretermitted heir. This may occur, for example, if the decedent’s child was born after the will was written.

What Does a Probate Lawyer Do?

A probate lawyer can have many duties. Most times, these are previously agreed upon with the client and focus on estate settlement duties and probate procedures. Sometimes the probate lawyer may assist the estate executor, represent a beneficiary who may consider entering into litigation, or even act as the estate executor themselves.

However, the role of a probate lawyer will depend slightly on whether the deceased left a will or whether they died without one.

When There Is a Will

. Creating an inventory of the estate’s assets, having them appraised, and sending the inventory to probate court.

. Overseeing the transfer of titles for assets such as real estate or vehicles.

. Oversee the distribution of the inheritance by the will, including any assets held in a living trust during the deceased’s lifetime.

. Assisting the estate executor in contacting insurance and pension providers, or doing this themselves.

. Opening an estate checking account and overseeing all transactions in the account.

. Communicating with the estate’s creditors and ensuring that the estate’s debts are paid.

. Preparing and filing all relevant paperwork for government agencies and legal and financial matters.

. Preparing the deceased final tax return, paying any outstanding tax, and filing an estate tax return if necessary.

. Petition the court to close the estate.

When There Is No Will

. Since there is no will, a family member or a probate lawyer usually submits the death certificate and an application for probate. The court then nominates an estate administrator, who can be assisted by a probate lawyer.

. Once all administrative duties regarding probate (gathering assets, paying debts and taxes, etc.) have been completed, what remains of the estate is distributed to heirs according to very specific inheritance hierarchies. The deceased’s wishes play no part in this matter. The probate lawyer can oversee this process to ensure the estate is distributed according to succession laws.

How to Become a Probate Lawyer

There are specific educational and training requirements and qualifications that are important for you to develop before you become a probate lawyer.

  • Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

To get into law school, prospective probate lawyers must first acquire a bachelor’s degree. However, there are no set requirements regarding the major. You may major in any subject, but it’s recommended that you choose the one that has the potential to prepare you to become a successful lawyer for the probate court.

  • Study And Pass The Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

Apart from maintaining a good GPA during your undergraduate studies, doing well in the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is the key to getting into the law school of your choice.

  • Earn Your Juris Doctor Degree

After successfully passing the LSAT, it’s time to apply to law school. It’s a good idea to choose a school that has an estate-law program. Here you may learn about asset and trust management, family law, and estate planning. After completing law school, you’ll earn a Juris Doctor Degree, which makes you eligible to take the bar exam.

  • Pass Your State’s Bar Exam

Anyone planning to become a licensed lawyer is required to pass the Bar exam, and probate lawyers are no exception. This is a two-day exam that extensively tests the candidates’ legal knowledge.

  • Learn The Uniform Probate Code

Before you start your journey as a probate lawyer, you should familiarise yourself with the Uniform Probate Code. This is a code that standardizes probate law across different states. So far, it has been fully adopted by 18 states and partially by the rest of them.

The code explains how probate law works, such as what happens when a person dies intestate. It also deals with how wills are handled and regulates trust administration.

  • Join a Professional Association

Enhance your professional network as a probate lawyer by joining an estate law association in your area. If you aren’t able to join one locally, consider looking for national organizations to join. Both can let you meet and network with other estate lawyers. Networking can also introduce you to potential jobs or contacts in the industry.

Skills For a Probate Lawyer

Probate lawyers need a variety of skills when handling the probate process and interacting with clients.

  • Communication Skills

Probate lawyers need both verbal and written communication skills to communicate with their clients, executors, and beneficiaries. Since they also work with financial managers and insurance specialists regularly, they need to understand how to communicate effectively.

  • Organization Skills

Organization skills help probate lawyers manage their clients and their calendar system effectively, which often includes dates and deadlines for filing legal documents. In addition, a probate lawyer’s calendar may also include dates for meetings, appointments, and court hearings.

  • Problem-Solving Skills

Probate lawyers use their problem-solving skills to settle disputes and help with the sale of an estate. Having this skill helps them come up with solutions for a wide range of problems related to their everyday duties.

  • Active Listening Skills

Probate lawyers use their active listening skills to give their full attention to their clients and colleagues. As a probate lawyer, it’s important to use this skill to understand what others say and to ask the right questions.

  • Writing Skills

Probate lawyers require strong writing skills to draft and prepare a variety of legal documents, such as wills and guardianship applications. These skills can also help edit and proofread important documentation prepared by other individuals.

  • Knowledge of Estate Law

This knowledge helps probate lawyers understand all aspects of estate law, allowing them to provide their clients with more relevant advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions:

How Do Probate Lawyers Charge?

Probate lawyers use one of three methods to charge their clients:

. An hourly rate for service

. A flat fee

. A percentage of the estate’s value.

The exact amount of fees will depend on the lawyer’s experience, the going rate in the area where the lawyer practices, and the legal matters to be addressed.

What Questions Should You Ask a Probate Lawyer?

If you decide to retain a lawyer for a probate case, consider asking the following questions.

. Do they specialize in probate law? Ask if they have handled a case like yours before.

. What services can they provide?

. Will the lawyer personally handle your case?

. How does the lawyer intend to charge you?

. What is the process involved in your specific case?


A probate lawyer is a type of attorney who handles legal matters regarding the distribution of the estate assets of a deceased individual to the inheritors. To become such a lawyer, one needs to complete law school, pass the bar, and learn the Uniform Probate Code.


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