Tracy Thompson here. I am the probate expert in the firm. Probate is the court process that people use to transfer title of assets from the dead to the living. If someone has passed away and you are an heir or a personal representative, then you might need me.
The first question in any potential probate case is do you really need to go through probate?
You only need probate if you have an asset titled in one person's name, and that person is deceased. It is impractical to ask the deceased to sign a deed or close a bank account. If you have to go through probate, don't panic; with a good attorney by your side, probate is usually not that big a deal.
I always try to find the most efficient way to get my clients in and out of probate. For smaller estates, I will see if we can use one of the several quicker and cheaper procedures. If your case doesn't fit into a small estate procedure, then we have to get ready for a full probate. I will need the original will (if there is one), a death certificate, and the names, ages and addresses of the living heirs. I may also need a complete family tree history. My first job will be to prepare the initial probate papers so we can get you appointed as the personal representative. Once you are appointed, then you can administer the estate by finding and preserving estate assets, paying creditors and taxes, and ultimately distributing the estate to the proper people. I know all the ins and outs of the probate process and can help you with any questions that arise along the way.
I have handled dozens of probate cases every year since 1996, and my paralegal Deborah Sherman has done every one of them with me. We are a good team to have on your side. We have successfully negotiated the probate process for complicated multi-million dollar estates. But most of our probate clients have much more modest estates and often spend less than $2,000 total in attorney fees, court costs and taxes.