A loved one passes away. You and other family members are in mourning. Eventually a will is produced. After reading the will, you find you have significant problems with what the will says. Now what do you do? You need to find a probate or estate lawyer and have a consultation to determine whether challenging the will has a substantial chance of success.
Meeting with the Probate or Estate Lawyer
Although you may be in a period of mourning, it is strongly suggested you meet with the estates lawyer as soon as possible. He or she will be able to answer your questions about the will and the probate process. You should ask the attorney whether they have handled cases similar to yours in the past. The more experience the attorney has in handling estate matters and will contests, the more secure you can be in knowing you found the right attorney.
Legal fees to challenge an estate usually are charged on an hourly basis. However, under certain circumstances contingency fees can be worked out.
The Attorney and Legal Staff
Some attorneys are sole practitioners. Others are members of small or large law firms. Large law firms may not be interested in handling a case that does not involve significant assets. When meeting with an attorney, notice whether he or she has staff to help with your case, such as paralegals and other lawyers in the office.
Time Frame of the Case
Most clients assume litigation can be resolved quickly. This is far from the truth. Estate litigation can take many months and sometimes years. You should discuss with the attorney, at your first meeting, how long he or she believes the case will take to reach its conclusion.
Contact with Your Attorney
Attorneys usually go to court in the morning. They also may meet clients in the afternoon. You should discuss with your lawyer whether telephone, e-mail, fax or other means is the best way to contact him or her and how quickly you should expect a response after calling or sending an email or fax.
Elliot Schlissel is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of New York. His law firm, with offices in Nassau County, Suffolk County and Queens County, practices in family law & divorce, criminal law, personal injury matters, bankruptcy, wills & trusts, and foreclosure defense.