It is not easy to go through probate, especially if you believe there are major issues with your loved one’s will or estate. In cases where you need to bring these issues up in court, having a Florida probate attorney by your side will greatly help you attain the outcome that you want.
But how do you choose the attorney that is right for you and your case?
“Shop” For Potential Lawyers. Do not just settle on the first lawyer that you come across. Use local lawyers’ websites to look at their experience and specialties. Testimonials are often available on a lawyer’s website or on listing sites like Yelp; these will help to give you more information about what it is like to work with each lawyer, and what to expect throughout the probate litigation process. Look out for any recognition or awards the lawyers and law firms have received as well.
Check to See If the Deceased Had an Estate Planning Lawyer. Often, individuals with larger or more complicated estates will have contacted an estate planning lawyer, or a lawyer with experience in probate administration and litigation. If you can find a lawyer who has worked with the deceased, contact them first.
It helps to at least have this lawyer in your phone. After all, they have had conversations with the deceased about the estate in question and the deceased’s intentions for dividing the estate.
However, if the estate planning lawyer is located outside of Florida, you may want to continue your search. Each state has specific rules about administering probate and probate litigation. A lawyer without experience in Florida’s policies and procedures may do more harm than good.
Interview Each Lawyer. This may sound tedious, and even time consuming, but having a consultation with each potential lawyer will help you get a better understanding of what to expect in the probate litigation process. Many lawyers offer quick case reviews or consultations before drawing up a contract. Take advantage of these opportunities to seriously get to know each attorney.
Ask each lawyer the following questions:
Have You Represented Similar Cases?
As important as it is to go to a good law school and graduate at the top of your class, the real knowledge and expertise of probate litigation will come with experience. Ask lawyers to speak to their experience. While each probate litigation case is different, try and find a lawyer who has handled (and won) cases like yours before.
What Are Your Credentials?
Probate litigation is a specific area of the law, and there are only a limited number of reasons that end-of-life documents could be contested in court. Ask how your lawyer was educated and if he or she is certified to work in the field of probate law and probate litigation.
What Do You Charge?
Lawyers may charge different rates, and your final bill could be made up of different factors (flat rates, charging by the hour, and so on). Factor this into the costs of probate litigation.
What Is Your Honest Opinion?
Briefly explain the reasons you are undergoing probate litigation, and what outcomes you want to see. Then ask the lawyer for his or her professional opinion. You may be surprised to find different lawyers might have different goals or predictions for your case. Go with a lawyer who has experience and knowledge to back up his or her opinion, but is willing to represent you and your ideal outcome.
Where Can I Learn More About Your Reading of the Law?
Every lawyer looks at the law differently. Ask for a deeper understanding about how each lawyer sees the law. Many lawyers have published literature or have written articles regarding probate law and administration. This information will be able to give you more insight as to how each lawyer will approach your case.
Why You Should Consider Wintter & Associates
There are 93,000 licensed attorneys in the state of Florida, but there are only 350 who are Board Certified in Wills, Trusts, and Estates. One of those 350 is Christopher Wintter.
Mr. Wintter understands how to use his experience in probate litigation make sure your loved one’s estate is divided fairly and honestly. Whatever your issue is, you can be sure that he has dealt with something similar before – contested wills, claims of elder abuse, undue influence, misuse of power of attorney, tax and creditor disputes, and charges against personal representatives just to name a few.
Contact us today to discuss your case and your probate litigation options.
About the Author:
Christopher Q. Wintter is the President of Wintter & Associates, P.A. , a four-lawyer trust and estate firm. Mr. Wintter is a Florida Bar Board-Certified Expert in Trust and Estate Law. With more than 28 years’ experience as a practicing attorney, he also serves as an instructor and faculty member for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA)—the nation’s leading provider of legal advocacy skills training to practicing attorneys—and has earned the AV® Preeminent™ rating with LexisNexis Martindale Hubbell. He was also selected for inclusion in Florida Super Lawyers Magazine for 2011, 2012, and 2014-2016 in Estate and Trust Litigation, and was selected for inclusion to the Best Lawyers in America in 2016 in the area of Estate and Trust Litigation.