Tips For Maintaining A Respectable Probate Court

While we at Kalicki Collier love what we do, we recognize that a number of aspects of the law are less than appealing. Combine that with the loss of a family member or a loved one, and we’re nearly certain the last place a grieving person wishes to visit is the courthouse.

 

The law is sensitive. There’s no sugar-coating it. There are a collection of factors, and nuanced variables an attorney should consider, and a certain standard of service they should implement. When a person dies, and their executor has been left behind to finalize matters with the probate court, these factors and variables become all the more nuanced, and the expectation of a certain quality of service is all the more important.

While it may seem as though maintaining a respectable probate court is like maintaining any other tribunal, there are a number of key elements that you should consider in order to ensure that you are providing your clients with the best, most intersectional, considerate service possible.


What Is Probate?

The formal legal technique of acknowledging a person’s will (or last will and testament), paying debts, and transferring assets to beneficiaries is known as probate. Nevada statutes give an order of preference for relatives who are then regarded beneficiaries if the deceased does not have a will.

When wills are challenged, the probate court is responsible for determining the document’s legitimacy as well as the mental soundness of the individual who signed it. The probate court also determines who inherits which percentage of the decedent’s assets, based on the will’s instructions or, if none, other laws in effect.

The probate court’s role is to make sure a deceased person’s debts are paid off and that their assets are distributed to the appropriate people. The legal process of managing the assets and obligations left behind by a person who has recently passed is known as probate – the general legal procedure of dealing with a deceased person’s assets and debts. The court that oversees the process and the actual distribution of assets are all covered by the probate court.


Patience

Next to nothing in the law happens overnight, and the same can certainly be said of probate court. The amount of time it will take to go through the probate process depends on the assets of the deceased individual, the complexity of their will, and a number of other factors. While probate can take anywhere from a few weeks to several years, the average time to complete probate is around nine months.

It is important to recognize that your clientele is grieving and is also dealing with a complex, lengthy process that likely overwhelms them. While we – the lawyers – are the experts, our clients are not, and it is important that we remain patient with them as they navigate an already challenging time. Combined with fees, paperwork, appointments, and financial management, the probate process is one that can take a debilitating toll on your clients. It is important that your expertise comes equally paired with patience and compassion.


Professionalism

While this may seem like a given, it is especially important when you are working with clients who are in a period of mourning. Your professionalism will establish a sense of rapport with your client, and make them more inclined to lay their complete trust in you, which is what we seek as litigators. Seemingly simple tasks like maintaining a certain level of organization and punctuality will contribute to an overall sense of ease within your client.

Providing continuous and open lines of communication with your clients will foster a relationship built on trust and confidence.


Empathy

As lawyers, our day to day often takes on a “business as usual” tone. In probate court, it is exceptionally important to avoid this. Death is most definitely not business as usual, especially for the family members and loved ones who are grieving. When maintaining a respectable probate establishment in Reno, it is paramount that your attorneys remember their client’s humanity. Your clients will most certainly be mourning throughout the probate process, and dealing with legal matters will likely not be at the forefront of their minds. It is important in probate court to lean into this and acknowledge the client’s experience.

Grief over a loved one’s death can be difficult for those left behind, including family, and friends. Unfortunately, the probate procedure is a necessary one, but it is important to recognize how it can add to the financial and administrative stress of a given executor. By acknowledging the executor’s experience and allowing them to grieve throughout the probate process, you add a level of humanity to your practice that is often lacking.


Consider Social Factors

While your practice is rooted in the law, there are a number of sociological factors that your attorneys should recognize in their clients. By recognizing the nuances that make each client unique and approaching them in a thoughtful, considerate way, you are creating a space where they feel seen and heard. Too often, lawyers apply a cookie-cutter approach, which leaves no room for social factors that may be impacting a person’s experience. When you move beyond the law, you set yourself apart in the judicial setting.

Some Sociological Factors to Consider:

  • Class

In a perfect world, probate clients would enter our offices having just pocketed a hefty inheritance from their deceased loved one, which would cover any and all legal & funeral expenses. But this simply is not the case. While the probate court ensures assets are put into the hands of the appointed beneficiaries, it also ensures that any debts of the deceased person are paid. For members of the working class, taking on the debts of a loved one, on top of coming up with payment for legal & funeral fees is enough to push clients to their breaking points. It is pivotal to be aware and mindful of this.

  • Education

If a client who recently lost his wife also happened to practice as a lawyer for forty years, it’s highly likely that he will be more at ease with the entire probate process. Conversely, a blue-collar warehouse worker will not come prepared with the same skillset and knowledge. While both clients have established themselves in rewarding careers, only one will enter the probate process with an established knowledge base. Understanding this within the Nevada probate court system is imperative to delivering curated lawyering.

  • Age

Similarly, a client’s age may contribute to their experience, and it’s important that your attorneys know how to adjust their services accordingly. Though death is never an easy thing, it tends to feel more palatable when it’s the result of old age. That said, an elderly lady who’s just lost her husband of 50 years will most certainly have a different experience than a 30-year-old first-time mom whose military husband recently passed away.

  • Bereavement

Believe it or not, bereavement in and of itself is a factor that alters the social experience. When maintaining a respectable probate court, it is imperative to maintain a constant level of awareness that your clients are going through a period of mourning. Factors such as stress, lack of sleep, financial concerns, malnourishment, and depression each make the probate court process all the more precarious. It is the job of the probate court to recognize and tend to these differing needs.


Probate court is not necessarily the first place clients are seeking to go when they lose someone they love. That being said, it is important to create a respectable and considerate environment to make your clients feel at ease and foster relationships built on trust.

The lengthy process of probate court can take a significant toll on clients, and it is essential to be mindful of that. By implementing simple professionalism techniques such as maintaining punctuality and open lines of communication, you confirm that your client can depend on you. To maintain a respectable practice, the probate court should lean into the humanity of their clients and recognize the varied experiences of grief. Lastly, it is paramount that probate litigators move beyond the legal realm and take the necessary time to consider the sociological factors that undoubtedly change the experience of each client.

At Kalicki Collier, our trusted attorneys have the experience, knowledge, attention-to-detail, and much-needed humanity and empathy that it takes to handle matters of probate in a way that is as efficient and effective as possible, while ensuring that stress levels are not exacerbated. For probate legal services with peace of mind, contact Kalicki Collier

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