Should Your Probate Lawyer be Local?

Probate lawyers near you are familiar with state Laws, local court rules, rules of court, and cases for their jurisdiction. But your search for “probate lawyer near me” may identify thousands of results, some within your jurisdiction but many whose offices may not be “local.” 

Thinking about hiring a probate attorney? Regardless of your location, you must select an attorney who is licensed to practice in the jurisdiction or state where the probate must be filed. A probate is generally filed in the county where the decedent resided. You may also be required to file an additional or “ancillary probate” in a jurisdiction or state where the decedent held property.

It’s All About Communication

A probate lawyer near you can provide in-person meetings facilitating comfort in communication with your probate Lawyer. Close proximity may allow for easy exchange of original documents and direct physical access to the local court system.

Changes in recent years have expanded communications opportunities. Technologies have expanded access to your attorney through not only in-person visits and telephone calls, but also video conferences and meetings.  

Many documents can now be signed with a “click” through DocuSign or AdobeSign to create an “original” document. Likewise, many documents can now be shared remotely through upload to the “cloud” or by email attachment.

Courts have also expanded their access by allowing for court appearances by telephone or video participation and by electronic filing and access to records and court personnel.  

It Could Save You Money, Too

Attorney’s Statutory Fees

California probate fees are calculated following the compensation strategy directed by the California Probate Code. So when trying to decide how much a probate lawyer will cost in Orange County versus in another county, the statutory fees will be the same.

Attorney’s Extraordinary Fees

Additional compensation for “extraordinary services” provided by the attorney may also be decided by the local court determining what is just and reasonable. The amount of compensation for extraordinary services is subject to the court’s discretion as to what is just and reasonable and is generally determined on the basis of the locale of the court, its practice standards and not by the attorney’s address.

The California Rules of Court provides a nonexclusive list of activities for which extraordinary compensation may be awarded to the attorney for the personal representative, including: Legal services in connection with the sale of property held in the estate; Services to secure a loan to pay estate debts; Litigation undertaken to benefit the estate or to protect its interests; Defense of the personal representative’s account; Defense of a will contested after its admission to probate; Successful defense of a will contested before its admission to probate; Successful defense of a personal representative in a removal proceeding; Extraordinary efforts to locate estate assets; Litigation in support of attorney’s request for extraordinary compensation, where prior compensation awards are not adequate compensation under all the circumstances; Coordination of ancillary administration; and Accounting for a deceased, incapacitated, or absconded personal representative.

Court Filing Fees

Court filing fees are posted in each court jurisdiction following California State guidelines, as sometimes augmented by the local jurisdiction. Each of the fifty-eight counties in California posts the list of fees on its court website for that, for example, can include such things as lodging the original Will and filing a motion, a petition, a response, objections, contest, Inventory and Appraisal, or an Accounting. So, the court where you file the probate determines the court filing fees, not the location of the attorney’s office.

Publication Fees

A probate will require that you publish in an approved legal newspaper notice that you are seeking the probate of a will or the administration of the estate. The prices for publication vary widely and are set by the local newspaper. So, the location of the attorney’s office should not impact the cost of publication.

Location may affect travel costs and impact the faster process of in-person activities. But, the expansion of activities through the Internet has impacted the advantage of local practice and facilitated the probate practice to jurisdictions throughout California.

So. . .How to Decide

Whether you live near the probate lawyer’s office or far, the price for legal services remains the same. Filing fees and publication fees in various jurisdictions vary from county to county and are not dependent on either how near or far you live from your Probate lawyers’ office or the attorney’s location.

Depending upon your own preference for communication, it could save time and money to hire a probate attorney near to where you live or work. You may prefer to exchange documents by handing them to your attorney instead of sending or receiving them by mail or email. Besides possibly saving money, personal delivery may be faster. On the other hand, scanning and sending information electronically can save you time.

It’s your decision whether you want to communicate in person with a probate lawyer who is local or will be comfortable with telephone, video, mail and email communication. It’s a balance between your desire for in-person contact against the time savings you will experience in relying upon video, mail and digital communication.

Have More Questions about Probate?

The Kiken Group has knowledgeable probate attorneys who practice in Probate Courts throughout the State of California with offices in Orange County, in the City of Irvine, California. Call us at 657-213-3926 or email us at Contact for an initial free consultation.

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