Probate Litigation: Important Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Attorney


Probate litigation can be a complex and emotionally charged process that requires a skilled attorney to navigate. It is essential to have a competent probate litigation attorney by your side when conflicts arise during this legal journey. However, not every attorney who deals with estate planning is equipped to handle probate litigation cases. To make an informed decision, it is crucial to ask key questions before hiring an attorney.

1. How Much of Your Practice is Devoted to Probate Litigation?

Before selecting an attorney for your probate matter, it is important to determine the extent of their experience in probate litigation and their comfort in a courtroom setting. While some attorneys focus solely on drafting estate planning documents, others specialize in litigation. General practitioners may cover a wide range of legal areas, with probate only representing a small portion of their expertise. To ensure that your case is handled effectively, it is essential to hire an attorney with substantial experience in probate litigation.

2. Do You Handle Estate Planning Matters as well?

There is a distinct difference between the roles of a trusts and estates attorney and a probate litigation attorney. While trusts and estates attorneys assist clients in creating estate plans, drafting documents, and ensuring that their wishes are carried out, probate litigation attorneys handle disputes that arise during the probate process. Although some attorneys offer a broad range of legal services, it is crucial to determine the specific type of attorney and services you require.

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3. Understanding Probate Litigation and the Process Involved

Probate matters can be overwhelming, especially when conflicts arise. When hiring a probate litigation attorney, it is essential to choose someone who will fight for the best possible results in your case. During your initial consultation, inquire about the probate litigation process. Although each case is unique, they generally follow a similar structure. Starting with pleadings, the process progresses through the discovery phase. Just like any other civil action, motions can be filed by either party to seek court rulings. Anytime before the trial, the dispute can be resolved through settlement negotiations. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case will be decided by a judge.

4. When Should You Hire a Probate Litigation Attorney?

In most cases, meeting with a probate litigation attorney indicates that a dispute has already occurred. However, various issues can arise during the probate process, leading to litigation. For example, if you suspect the validity of a loved one’s will, believe you were unfairly disinherited, or if the executor breaches their fiduciary duties or misappropriates funds, you may need to hire a probate litigation attorney. Based on the specific details and circumstances of your case, an experienced attorney can guide you on the best course of action.

5. Exploring Alternatives to Litigation for Probate Matters

Not every probate dispute needs to be resolved in a courtroom. By hiring a probate litigation attorney, you gain an advocate who prioritizes preserving family relationships and aims to reduce conflict whenever possible. Alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation and arbitration can be employed to maintain family ties. These methods allow parties to work together, with the assistance of a neutral third party, to reach a settlement. Since probate conflicts often involve intricate family dynamics, these alternatives can prove helpful.

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To gain peace of mind during the probate process, it is crucial to have a knowledgeable probate litigation attorney by your side. The dedicated California probate litigation attorneys at Garrity Traina have extensive experience assisting individuals and their families in achieving fair outcomes. Contact Garrity Traina or call (760) 747-3200 to schedule a consultation.

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