Are you getting ready to meet with an Orlando probate attorney for the first time? This first meeting can seem rather intimidating. After all, you’re discussing the property division of a deceased individual. It’s not light conservation by any means. However, if you are the executor of a will, meeting with a probate attorney is the best way to get the process moving forward so family members can gain access to their inheritance and you can fulfill your duty.
Prior to meeting with the attorney, you may be asked to fill out a questionnaire. This will go over your relationship to the deceased and he or she may ask you questions about your legal authority to oversee the division of property. If you’re required to fill out a questionnaire, take your time and make sure you answer all the questions to the best of your ability.
When you meet with the probate attorney, you will need to bring certain documents with you to the meeting. These documents should be listed on the questionnaire or the attorney’s staff may verbally tell you which documents the attorney will need to see. Requested documentation usually includes copies of the following information:
• Trusts or wills of the deceased
• Deeds to all real property
• Life insurance policies
• Gift tax returns, if applicable
• Trust agreements between husbands and wives if the spouse is the beneficiary
• Public benefit statements for government programs like Medicaid or Social Security
Prepare Your Own Questions
If you’ve never been part of the probate process, you are certain to have many questions. When you meet with the probate lawyer for the first time, it is in essence an interview. You’re trying to gauge just how well this individual will be able to represent the interests of the estate you’re in charge of allocating to the deceased dependents based on his or her final wishes. The following examples are questions that you may want to ask of the attorney you are meeting with:
• How many cases similar to yours has the attorney handled? Not all probate cases are the same. If the estate is rather large or you expect resistance from certain individuals unhappy with the way the inheritance was divided, you’ll want to make sure your attorney has the expertise to handle this situation.
• Are there any foreseeable problems with your probate case? Attorneys are not psychic. However, legal professionals with the right amount of experience should be able to identify potential problems from the documents you show them and the way you answer their questions.
• Will the attorney you’re meeting with be the presiding attorney over the case or will it be handed to another legal professional in the office? If another attorney will be handling the majority of the case, make sure you take the time to meet him or her to ensure that you feel comfortable with his or her background and ability to handle the case.
• How long do you expect the case to take? Some probate cases are over and done with rather quickly, while others involve a lengthy process. Again, attorneys are not psychic, but they should be able to estimate a timeline based on the information you provide.
• How does the attorney get paid for his or her services? As the executor of the will, you should not be expected to pay out of pocket for these services. Probate attorneys usually take a percentage from the estate. Make sure you are comfortable with the percentage you are quoted.
These are just a few examples of the kinds of questions you’ll want to prepare ahead of time before you meet with the Orlando probate attorney of your choice.