How soon after someone dies should I contact a probate attorney?

Mar 20, 2020

Paul S. Labiner

Paul Labiner


The point at which you need to contact an estate planning attorney after someone dies will depend on many things, including how well the deceased person planned for their end-of-life.

Some issues to consider before contacting an estate planning or wills and trusts attorney are:

  • Have you received the death certificate yet (note: can take up to 14 days)?
  • Did the deceased person have a will or did they die “intestate”?
  • What is the size of the deceased’s estate?
  • What is your relationship to the deceased?
  • Will the deceased person’s estate need to go through probate?

Generally, if a deceased person had a will, you should wait until you have obtained the death certificate to contact your attorney regarding next steps.

However, if you or the deceased does not have an estate planning attorney or the relationship isn’t good, you can begin vetting qualified estate planning attorneys earlier than that to help you navigate the probate process.

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