Getting Legal Help With the Estate

Will you (the executor) need to engage a lawyer to help deal with the estate? Maybe, maybe not.

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If you've been appointed the executor of a loved one's estate--especially if you didn't know the job was coming--your first impulse may be to quickly turn matters over to a lawyer, who after all has experience in these matters. And it's true that most executors can benefit from some direction from an expert who's got lots of experience with probate in the local courts. But keep in mind that:

  • Assets in the estate may not need to go through probate court at all.
  • If the estate is fairly small, you may be able to used streamlined probate procedures.
  • Many probate courts now good information available online and publish their own simplified fill-in-the-blanks forms.
  • Many lawyers are now willing to coach you as you wrap up an estate, answering questions as they come up.

So before you make an appointment with a lawyer, do some homework. Here, you can read about the different ways of finding, working with, and paying an attorney.

Serving as Executor? Nolo Can Help.

Find a local lawyer for advice or handle the estate yourself with nolo's award winning do-it-yourself legal books.

The Executor's Guide

The Executor's Guide

Settle an estate or trust with this all-in-one guide for executors. The Executor's Guide will help you make progress one step at a time through the unfamiliar land of legal procedures and terminology.

The Trustee's Legal Companion

The Trustee's Legal Companion

Learn the ins and outs of being a trustee with this guide for every trust administrator. The Trustee’s Legal Companion shows you exactly how to proceed within the terms of the trust and your state's law.

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