From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I am a New Jersey resident serving as the Personal Representative of my mother’s Atlantic County, New Jersey estate. I hired a Atlantic County attorney to probate the estate and help me administer the estate, but I cannot get her to return my calls. What can I do?
We hear questions like these more often than you might think, especially from families who have never really required the services of a skilled attorney. Hiring a lawyer can be intimidating, and it’s especially hard to focus on day-to-day tasks when you’re also dealing with grief. However, customer service means everything in every industry, especially ours. It’s not enough to assume that your probate attorney’s going to do their job if they’re seemingly too busy to communicate with you.
As the Personal Representative, the Probate Attorney works for you.
And because you hire the Probate Attorney, you can also fire the Probate Attorney.
Even if it takes you a little while to get a new attorney up to speed and for your files to get transferred to a new firm, I think that’s a far better outcome than waiting for the phone to ring. This shouldn’t even be a hassle—attorneys are required by law and by our professional ethics to honor client requests to turn over case files to a client’s new counsel.
Remember, you are personally responsible for the estate’s progress. If your probate attorney is not moving quickly enough, you’re the one that beneficiaries and court officers will come after, not the attorney. If deadlines are not met, especially tax deadlines, and interest or penalties are levied, then you could be surcharged as the Executor or Personal Representative. Your Probate Lawyer’s job is to keep you out of trouble, not create trouble.
If you have questions about avoiding Probate in Atlantic County, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.