Is Do-It-Yourself Probate Possible?

When a loved one dies, many families are intimidated by the probate process. As a result, they end up paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to have tasks done that they could have done themselves with proper guidance.

At the law firm of McHugh & Macri in East Hanover, New Jersey, we help families probate wills themselves, saving those fees. McHugh & Macri innovated the "do-it-yourself" probate process.

What Is Involved In Administering An Estate?

Whether the estate is $10,000 or $10 million, certain estate administration steps must be taken when a person dies. During your conference with our certified elder law attorneys (CELA), we will review an estate checklist of what needs to be done. As we go through this checklist, you decide whether you can do certain tasks or whether an attorney needs to help. For many of the steps, you don't need an attorney.

Many people think that an attorney will charge a percentage of the estate to administer it. At McHugh & Macri, we don't charge fees based on the percentage of the estate, since the amount of work an attorney does has little to do with the size of the estate. We charge an hourly fee for only those services that we provide.

Probate/Administer It Yourself

Every estate, whether probated or not and regardless of size, requires several steps to complete the estate administration. The general overview of tasks is:

  • Locating and liquidating the resources

  • Paying all just debts of the decedent, including taxes if applicable

  • Distributing the residuary to the beneficiaries of the will or intestate estate

McHugh and Macri has developed a technique successfully used by estate clients for many years that significantly reduces the cost of administering an estate, including legal fees. Since many of the estate steps don't require the specialized knowledge of an attorney, you can do it yourself, with our advice and guidance, without paying a percentage of the estate value. If the estate needs tax returns or has legal complexities, you engage an attorney only to handle those steps and it's billed at an hourly rate, not a percentage of the estate.

Here's how it works

  1. Contact McHugh and Macri before seeking probate. Why? Many times, you can avoid the time and expense of probate since it may not be legally required.
  2. McHugh and Macri will establish an in-office or telephone estate conference with our estate attorney (not a paralegal) and will send you an estate administration checklist to be completed for that conference.
  3. At the estate conference, our attorney will present and review with you a checklist of the issues that must be addressed to properly administer the estate. You decide which steps you will complete and which steps an attorney must complete.
  4. If probate is needed, McHugh and Macri then establishes a meeting with the county surrogate office for you and advises what papers are required for you to do it yourself.

That's it! Simple, direct and cost-efficient. For a modest fee, the client can administer the estate based on the expert advice provided by our estate lawyers.

Contact our office at 973-577-6010 and let us know that you are interested in a "probate/administer it yourself" conference.