Although the law doesn’t require that you have an attorney, it is almost certainly a good idea to retain a skilled Probate Attorney to handle the legal process involved. A Probate case is a formal civil court matter and it is subject to an extensive set of laws and court rules that are confusing, complex and sometimes contradictory. (See California’s Probate Code here).
An experienced Probate lawyer will be certain that you meet all deadlines and avoid mistakes, delays and liability for your actions in the Probate case. Further, a lawyer (or better, a Free Legal Liaison) can sometimes help avoid disagreements among family members over minor or major issues.
How can a Free Legal Liaison Help Me as the Personal Representative in a Probate Case?
To be clear, the Probate lawyer represents the interests of the personal representative ONLY, not the beneficiaries, heirs or family members. In fact, the Probate lawyer will not be able to disclose any information to those other interested people due to attorney-client confidentiality. Therefore, those heirs and family members may become suspicious and untrusting of the lawyer and, possibly, of you as the Personal Representative. Therefore, it is recommended that you also have a Legal Liaison who is free to discuss all the matters involved with all interested parties including the extended family.
If you need assistance locating a probate attorney or if you need help working through the process even if you already have an attorney, please view information about the Free Legal Liaison Program.