Executor FAQ

Can an executor get help from someone besides a lawyer?

Yes. Here are some other sources of information and assistance.

  • The court. Probate court clerks commonly answer basic questions about court procedure, but they staunchly avoid saying anything that could possibly be construed as "legal advice." Some courts, however, have lawyers on staff who look over probate documents, point out errors in the papers, and explain how to fix them.
  • Other professionals. For certain tasks, an executor may be better off hiring an accountant or appraiser than a lawyer. For example, a CPA may be a big help on estate tax matters.
  • Nonlawyer document preparers. Many lawyers delegate probate paperwork to paralegals. Now, in some areas of the country, experienced paralegals have set up shop to help people directly with probate paperwork. These people don't offer legal advice, they just prepare documents as the executor instructs them and file them with the court. To find one, an executor can look online or in the Yellow Pages under "Legal Document Preparation" or "Attorney Services." The executor should hire someone only if that person has substantial experience in this field and provides good references.
  • Books. The Executor's Guide, by Mary Randolph (Nolo), guides executors through the process of winding up a loved one's estate, step by step.

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