How to Become a Probate Lawyer

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Probate is a process in the legal field that focuses on the administration of the estate of a person that has passed away using a valid will and testament. Probate lawyers are highly trained legal professionals that specialize in probate law.


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In 2015, I said goodbye to 16-hour days and hauling boxes up and down stairs for a living (I was a mover). I became a full-time entrepreneur, and I made my money by helping business owners make money.

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What does a probate lawyer do?

Probate lawyers handle a variety of issues related to inheritance and property of deceased individuals. They deal with the legal process of validation of wills, the organization of the assets of the deceased, and ensure all the debts and taxes of the deceased are paid. They help determine who is entitled to the estate and assets and provide legal representation and advice in probate proceedings. They often review the will and legally distribute assets to the identified beneficiaries and heirs. Probate lawyers represent the deceased or the heirs in surrogate court. They often deal with cases of people contesting wills.

What kind of training does a probate lawyer need?

Probate lawyers must have a bachelor degree and law degree from an accredited law school. All law schools require candidates to receive a satisfactory score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Law school provides intensive instruction and provides many different practical learning experiences. Most law schools require students to complete an internship prior to graduation. Many aspiring probate lawyers complete internships or clerkships at probate law firms to gain practical experience and establish valuable contacts. All states require probate lawyers to pass the written bar examination to become licensed to practice law. Many states also require probate lawyers to pass a separate ethics examination. Probate lawyers must complete regular continuing legal education to maintain their licenses, keep their skills current, and stay up to date with advancements and changes in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a probate lawyer?

Employment of all lawyers, including probate lawyers is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 13% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing and aging population and increase in probate cases will drive job growth for probate lawyers.

Job prospects should be good with strong competition. Probate lawyers with great academic records and extensive experience will have the best job opportunities.

How much do probate lawyers make?

As of February 2010, the average annual salary for probate lawyers is $45,000; average annual probate lawyer salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a probate lawyer is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in probate law and handling a variety of issues related to the estate of deceased individuals. Probate lawyers must have a solid understanding of the concepts, rules, and regulations related to probate law. Patience, analytical thinking, self-confidence, good negotiation skills, and good problem solving skills are necessary characteristics. Probate lawyers must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to provide support to emotional family members.

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