The answer is NO. When a person dies leaving a Will and/or Trust, the nominated Personal Representative or Successor Trustee is not obligated to use the attorney who prepared the documents to administer the estate and/or trust.
Some attorneys retain the original Will in their “Will Vault” and give the testator a copy of the Will which is marked with the location of the original
document. This will require the family to contact that attorney in order to obtain the original document. Many will feel that they are now obligated to use the attorney. If a decedent did not have access to a safe-deposit box or fireproof vault in order to store the original document, having an attorney retain the original, is a good idea but in no way does it make you obligated to retain this attorney for the administration.
Perhaps the attorney who drew the document is geographically undesirable, too expensive, or maybe the family just doesn’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling from the attorney; in that event the family/nominated Personal Representative can hire any Florida licensed probate attorney to probate the estate or help administer the trust.
Dealing with a death is never easy. The probate process through the ages has received a bad reputation. Just the word “Probate” makes some people cringe. This does not have to be. Working with the right probate attorney and his or her staff is essential for the successful administration of an estate or trust. The right help can make a bad time bearable. Since in most cases, the Personal Representative/Trustee is going to be working with the attorney for approximately a year, it is a good idea to feel comfortable with that professional.
Ask yourself these questions….1. Does the attorney/paralegal explain the process as it goes along? 2. Is the staff available for questions and do they return phone calls or e-mails in a timely manner? Do you feel that the Attorney and staff are your advocate ready to go to bat for you? These are very important questions.
Hopefully you do not buy a pair of shoes without trying them on. The same goes for an attorney. Not every attorney is the right fit. Find one you feel confident in because you will be working with them for awhile.
About the Author: Peggy Hoyt Peggy R. Hoyt practices in the areas of family wealth and legacy counselling, including trust and estate planning and administration, elder law, small business creation, succession and exit planning, real estate transactions and animal law.