Back to the Learning Center

By: Scott Grossman on August 5th, 2016

How to choose a San Diego, California probate attorney

Wisely choosing a qualified probate lawyer in San Diego means you may have to do more than read some advertisements or a few websites. Many lawyers do probate in addition to two, three, or four different practice areas. Usually, these practice areas have nothing to do with probate. You can often find some combination of personal injury, family, real estate, business, and bankruptcy law in addition to probate.

Choosing an attorney who takes probate cases as an “add-on” to his practice is a big mistake. When a problem comes up during your case this type of attorney probably won’t know what to do. They go into hiding, not responding to client phone calls or blunder forward causing more problems and delays. Their cases often take longer than those handled by experienced San Diego probate attorneys.

On the other hand, you probably won’t find a lawyer in San Diego who does only probate. What you will find, if you look carefully, are lawyers who do some combination of probate, estate planning, trust administration, probate litigation, and trust litigation.

Having a lawyer who does probate litigation in addition to uncontested probates protects you from the beginning of your case. That’s because any probate can unexpectedly degenerate into litigation. If your lawyer doesn’t litigate then you may need to change your lawyer midway through your probate.

While searching for a probate attorney find out what past clients think of the attorney. An attorney practicing for any length of time should have testimonials from satisfied clients. The testimonials should tell you how those clients were treated, how the lawyer performed, what the clients’ problems were, and whether they were satisfied with the outcome of their cases. An attorney whose past clients don’t have something good to say about them may be a sign of a problem.

Nearly everyone who is looking for a San Diego probate attorney has never been an executor or may only have had to do it once before. Any attorney you are considering hiring should have materials that educate their clients about the probate process. Find out if they have written a book, created a DVD, or done anything else that helps their clients to understand what is going to happen during the process and what they should expect. You should expect your attorney to provide you with an education so that you know what to expect and make informed decisions as your case progresses.

You should also look at who the attorney has represented. An attorney who has represented a combination of banks, private fiduciaries, and individuals is probably a good choice. If the attorney has only represented banks, trust companies, or private fiduciaries then that attorney may have some really lousy social skills and be unable to talk to ordinary people. An attorney who has only represented individuals may not have the knowledge, skill, or experience that a bank expects from its attorney. Banks can afford to be choosy and they are. You should be too.

The Grossman Law Firm, APC · 11440 West Bernardo Ct., Ste. 300 San Diego, CA 92127 ·  (619) 344-0600