Tips for Selecting the Right Estate Dispute Attorney

We recently created a video highlighting the Estates, Trusts, and Probate Litigation practice group at Reminger. It was a good exercise because it gave us the opportunity to explain, in simple terms, what we do for our clients and to show you the legal team you get when you hire us.  

Probate related disputes are almost always emotional and often complicated.   Many of our clients, when they initially contact us, are overwhelmed. They are concerned with cost, with whether their goals are attainable, and whether there is anything at all that can be done to solve their problem.  Generally, all of these concerns, coupled with overall fear of the unknown litigation landscape, create a situation where finding the right attorney can make or break your case.  We understand these issues and are practiced at helping you understand the real legal issues associated with your problem.  Because of our experience, we can give you information necessary to allow you to make informed decisions regarding the value, cost and risk of taking the next step.

Reminger was established more than 60 years ago. Along with our reputation as skilled civil litigators, we are also home to a recognized probate litigation practice group. When you hire Reminger for an estate dispute, you hire lawyers that have a large team of professionals with significant experience - more than 120 years of combined experience in the handling of these types of matters. Each attorney in our practice group brings something different to the table, and has handled numerous cases involving the following: 

Will contests
Inheritance claims
Estate fraud
Trust controversies
Undue influence
Breach of fiduciary duty
Abuse of powers of attorney
Mismanagement of trust assets
Lack of capacity
Incompetence
Guardianship removal
Farm inheritance dispute
Concealment of assets

So, what should you consider when hiring a probate litigation lawyer? 

  • Make sure that your attorney is experienced in litigation. Estate and trust litigation is a specialized area of law, but so is litigation.  People who litigate are familiar with the rules of civil procedure, the rules of evidence and, hopefully are good at cross examining witnesses or positioning facts in an advantageous manner.  While some estate planners can litigate, they may not be familiar or skilled at the types of things a person who litigates disputes would be more familiar with.  On the other hand, a person who litigates estates, will not likely be familiar with the concepts, meaning, and business practices of an estate planning or probate lawyer or the courts that decide most of these cases.  Thus litigators who are not substantially familiar with estates and trusts cannot navigate as easily through the disputes within a probate, trust, or estate planning matter.   Additionally, someone who does not litigate estates day by day, hour by hour, and year after year, may never have had experience designing strategies based on things such as the trust or probate codes and, accordingly, likely would have less of a background necessary to know which strategies are more effective or more subtle.  Therefore, ideally, you will want a lawyer who is fluid and skilled in both areas of litigation and estate planning/probate/ and trust law to guide you.   
  • Read the attorney’s online profile/biography to learn more about their experience. Many of our attorneys are leaders in the industry: as active members or fellows of pertinent organizations, authors of relevant publications and articles, presenters at conferences, and recipients of ‘best in class’ peer-reviewed awards. These attributes paint a clearer picture of the person you are looking to hire, and might give you additional insight that will be of help. 
  • Reach out to the lawyer by sending an email or making a phone call. Although by doing this an attorney-client relationship is not created, you can find out if this person is the right fit for your situation with a brief consultation. What is their approach to client service? Are they familiar with ways to address your specific legal problem? You are looking to get a sense whether this lawyer is a good fit for you. 

As we underscore in our video, we focus on this type of work every day. The most rewarding aspect of our job is trying to help people amicably resolve their disputes and to maintain their relationships. It’s not always accomplished but when it is, it means a lot to both the clients, and to us.