Your options can be endless, but who you talk to makes all the difference in whether you’re on the right path or not. The below list highlights some of the most common resources.

Clerk of Courts

Option 1: Call and schedule a time to speak with a Clerk – With this option, you’re able to get direct access to all the forms you’ll need to file within each phase, along with some general information regarding probate or estate administration. Luckily, with our current (2019) elected Clerk of Court, customer service has been a stronger focus – and as it should be. You’ll find that the clerk’s office will provide helpful information on what to file and when to file it by. The catch to all this is whether you know what to ask, whether you’re asking all the right questions, and if you’re asking enough questions. Further, be reminded that without the right information and documentation to present to the clerk, you may be filing the wrong paperwork to open up an estate. Probate is a costly and time-consuming process, so any wrong steps will mean more fees in the long run.

Advice from a Friend

Option 2: Speak with a friend who has been through this before – We strongly depend on trusted friends and resources when it comes to guidance and referrals. For this reason, we want to believe that our friends will only point us in the right direction. After all, they’ve been through it before, so they should know what they’re doing. However, the things we don’t take into consideration are the many elements to each estate, that determines the course of action for each estate. Much like a puzzle piece, no one estate is going to be like the next. This is why probate or estate administration is a process. We have statutes to guide us and we have an administrative process governed by the Will (if applicable) and the courts to help us navigate probate or estate administration. Without knowledge of what’s applicable to you and if you’re in compliance with state law, or if you’re missing anything vital, you might want to reconsider taking a friend’s advice until you know more about every detail of the circumstances you’re working with. Every bit of detail matter in probate or estate administration, and for this reason, you should speak with someone who knows every facet of every statute and process.

Seek Help from an Attorney

Option 3: Speak with an Estate Administration/Estate Planning Attorney – In consideration of every estate being a special and unique event of its own, it’s important to know if the attorney you’re consulting with is listening to every facet of your needs and circumstances. Is there someone else in the room to actively listen to your questions and comments, and fully addressing what your course of action should be? At the end of the meeting, you have to ask yourself if you’ve benefited from the consultation at all. Did you leaving feeling the fog has lifted? Did you leave feeling your questions were answered or that you will get a response? Do you feel like you’ve been upsold on a service proposal? Did you benefit from the meeting – having left with more knowledge than you did before you walked in? Do they have a successful process to help you address every moving part of probate or estate administration? Did you feel important? These are the questions you’ll want to ask yourself when you meet with an estate administration/estate planning attorney. There’s no harm in saying no to someone’s offer to assist, as long as you know that when you invest and where you invest matters to the entire process.

We may be biased just because we’re a law firm, but it never hurts to invest in a consultation with an estate administration/estate planning attorney to know if you’re on the right course or just to double check if what your friend or the clerk have you on the right track. In fact, it might help you to save or preserve some money in the long run simply to know how to plan your next course of action before executing it.

Why wait to be told you’ll need an attorney before actually pursuing one? If that’s the end route, it might as well be where you start.