Determining whether you should seek the help of a probate attorney to help you with your loved one’s estate, is naturally a personal decision. However; given the seriousness of of being appointed an executor for someone’s ‘estate’ is a grave responsibility that requires professional assistance in my opinion. Especially if the decedent left behind a lot of unfinished business, or loose ends. Considering your overall responsibilities along with the tasks involved, you will have to decide if you can fully manage everything for the estate while managing your own affairs, and daily life activities such as work, school, children and significant other (if applicable).
You are also required to ensure that all court documents are properly filed; secure interrogatories from witnesses whose testimony may be required under law or that you feel may help the presentation of your case. When going through probate ‘pro se’, additional responsibilities include preparing for trial and pursuing and responding to discovery if necessary.
Serving as executor for an estate and going through the probate process may seem straight forward for some, and can appear to be a just another procedure with a lot of check lists to follow. Beware; it can get murky pretty quickly if you don’t know what you’re doing or if you are not familiar with the process. One missed deadline or improperly filed documents could result in delays or having to start the process all over again. If you decide not to use an attorney to represent you this is known as ‘pro se’, and means that you represent yourself.
Although the clerks at the probate courts issue the forms needed to file, and open probate; they can not give you any advice on what you should do about matters regarding your individual situation. They are not attorneys; and are not equipped to give legal advice.