How do I Become a Probate Lawyer?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2018
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If you are interested in the law, you might want to become a probate lawyer. The primary role of a probate lawyer is to administer the estate of someone after they have died. Tasks include the creation of a legal will and distributing the assets as indicated in the will. The probate lawyer can represent the deceased or the heirs in a surrogate court, should the validity of the will be in question.

Although the work of a probate lawyer is focused on the legal distribution of assets after death, there is a significant amount of litigation in this area of the law. Many people will contest wills that do not include items that were verbally promised or hinted at during the person's lifetime. In addition to this aspect of the law, there is an accounting component to this work. As the estate executor, the probate lawyer must ensure that all funds are accounted for and manage the taxation aspect of the estate.

The first requirement if you want to become a probate lawyer is to graduate from law school. This is a total of eight to 10 years of university education, enough to obtain a bachelor's degree and a law degree. In addition, you must gain a specific number of hours of work experience in a law firm, then successfully pass the law society bar exam.


Experience that is helpful as you work to become a probate lawyer includes academic research, conflict resolution, negotiation skills and human psychology. A firm grasp of interpersonal relationship complexities and interview skills are an added bonus. Oral communication and persuasion skills will be very helpful when working on creating a will and discussing any requests to change the will.

To get started as a probate lawyer, most people look for employment in a large law firm. As junior lawyers, they are responsible for reviewing wills, fulfilling change requests and doing the paperwork surrounding the execution of an estate. Learning about how the surrogate courts work and watching senior lawyers argue or defend a case is part of the position.

Once you become a probate lawyer and start to build your own client base, it is possible to launch your own private practice. This type of career can be very lucrative but also requires a steady stream of clients. Make sure to advertise widely and build a solid reputation as a skilled professional if you want to start your own practice.



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