How Probate Will Impact Your Life and How to Choose a Probate Lawyer


Let’s talk about the impact of probate on you and your family. And then I’ll help you set your priorities, before you choose an attorney.

About Me

First, a little bit about me. I have over 15 years experience in Probate. Probate is all that I do. What I mean by that, is I’m not a jack-of-all-trades that handles car accidents one day, and your aunt’s estate the next. And I’ve served as the professional executor or trustee for over 100 trusts and estates.

I trained under some of the best probate attorneys in New York. And I realized that most clients don’t REALLY want petitions, letters, or accountings, etc.

You’re probably wondering: What do clients really want? What do you really want? You should ask yourself: “what’s the result that you want, that you wish you could get to, without ever having to learn about surrogate’s court or executors, etc.”

The answer for most clients is: You want Your Rightful Share of the Estate, Handled Correctly, With No Headaches.

You need to understand that probate is long. It can take up to a year, often even longer. And a lot happens during that time, so let’s talk about the 4 main impacts of probate that can really disrupt your life.


The first impact is on your time. Running an estate is essentially another part-time job. Can you imagine squeezing another part-time job into your already busy schedule?

Under New York law, most probate duties are non-delegable. That means you can’t use a power of attorney to ask your unemployed nephew to help with the more tedious and time consuming tasks

That means you may be the one standing on line at the courthouse, or waiting on hold with the bank.

This can especially be a problem if you don’t live in New York (or in the US), because of lot of tasks require someone to be physically located here in New York. Who has the time or money to fly back and forth to New York from another state or country?


The second impact is family conflict. Most folks really value their family relationships, or at least don’t want to make anything worse.

This is what I call the probate equation: family + money + death = drama. It just seems to bring out the Jerry Springer in so many otherwise normal families. The scary thing is, nobody ever expects it.

Let me tell you about Bonnie and Pam. These sisters were great friends, grew up together, even raised their children down the street from each other.

Then, their aunt died, and Bonnie was somehow deputized by the rest of the family to handle the probate. This aunt was not uber wealthy, and Bonnie and Pam are both upper middle class. So this wasn’t a life-changing inheritance for either of them.

But somehow things went sour, and Bonnie and Pam had a falling out, and they haven’t spoken since.


The next impact is unexpected costs. Death is usually unexpected. Or at least being thrust into the role of handling an estate is unexpected.

Can you imagine paying a second set of bills, on top of your own bills?And with no end in sight?

Most estates are illiquid, which means you won’t have immediate access to estate cash.

So if you can’t keep up with the bills, how do you decide which bills you should pay, and which ones you can hold off on?

And to get the probate case started, most lawyers require a retainer of several thousands of dollars.

Most of us simply don’t have that sort of spare cash lying around.


The last impact is stress. Probate can be full of incredibly frustrating bureaucracies and delays.

It might feel something like the headache of changing your name, moving, changing all your bank accounts, and re-filing your taxes all at once. Yikes! Right?

And this is really an “all of the above” category, because everything we’ve already talked about really adds to that giant ball of stress.

So just ask yourself: Do you want to add more stress to your life?

You’re probably thinking: “I don’t want to deal with all this! What happens if I just do nothing?”

Bad idea! The government takes over. Why is this such a bad idea? I’ll just suggest that you google “New York Public Administrator scandals” and let the internet give the answer.

So since you can’t just do nothing, let’s figure out how to get the kind of help you want. First, you need to decide what’s most important to you.

Hopefully, I’ve helped you get a better understanding of what’s most important to you. And what problems you want your lawyer to solve for you.

You now know to ask questions like: How will my attorney help me avoid family conflict? Will my attorney start working with no retainer?How will my attorney protect my time?

I hope you found this helpful. Give us a call or fill out the form below if you’d like to learn more from me. Otherwise, best of luck, and take care. Bye now!

[Previously posted on YouTube]

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Involved with a probate estate? Writing your will?  Pick up a copy of my book:

How Probate Works Cover 3D

How Probate Works: A Guide for Executors, Heirs, and Families

Available at

Questions answered in the book:

A testimonial from a reader:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “As I begin down this path with my parent’s estate, I found this resource very helpful. While the task before me now seems even more daunting than before, it’s more of an informed weight as I have an idea of what’s coming and how much it will require of me. It’s no longer the mysterious unknown that feels overwhelming, but a process that I can work through one piece at a time.”

*Disclosure: Links to my book are “affiliate links,” and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.