Minnesota Probate Cases:  Why It’s Rarely Wise to Represent Yourself

Minnesota Probate LawNearly every day, American TV shows feature people fighting in court over various matters, including Minnesota probate cases.

As the judge questions each party, it mays it look like it’s fairly easy to represent yourself in court.  However, these shows rarely tell you that they’ve provided these litigants with a highly simplified process for presenting their cases.

In real life, it’s often quite difficult to responsibly handle a complex probate matter on your own without obtaining legal advice from an attorney.  Few lay people have enough legal training and experience to successfully undertake this type of complicated legal process. Far too often, serious problems develop when a person representing herself fails to promptly respond to new court requests for additional information or motions filed by other parties. Furthermore, probate cases can be especially difficult since they often stir up longstanding family disagreements.

Minnesota Courts:  Factors That Help People Decide if They Can Handle Their Own Cases

The Minnesota Judicial Branch provides the public with a Self Help Center website page. It describes factors that can help you decide whether you’re truly capable of handling any type of difficult case (including probate) on your own.  Here are some of the key issues that prevent many litigants from choosing to appear “pro se” or “self-represented” in court.

  • Many probate cases are quite complicated. If you’re trying to probate a loved one’s Will and numerous, bickering family members are involved, you may have to endure some very painful and compromising arguments that could split your family apart for decades. Fortunately, most experienced Minnesota probate attorneys have experience working with difficult or demanding family members and they can help shield you from most of the stressful interactions with your family members and others;
  • Court paperwork can be difficult to understand. Although most courts try to explain matters clearly, it can be difficult to understand unfamiliar terms. Once you hire an attorney, he will know how to respond in a timely fashion to all paperwork received and all claims filed by various parties or creditors interested in the case;
  • You must have strong organizational skills and not feel shy when speaking in front of others in public. While probating a case mainly involves handling a significant amount of paperwork outside of the courtroom, there will be times when you’ll be required to appear and answer questions put to you by the court if you try and represent yourself. This can require time-consuming research and preparation, especially if you haven’t consulted with a probate attorney about any of the most complicated matters involved;
  • Some legal research and analytical skills may be required. If you’re intimidated by the papers (or packet of materials) the court gives you to help with representing yourself – and you’re unable to read statutes or court cases with clear understanding, you may need to seriously consider hiring a lawyer;
  • It can be very difficult to hold down a full-time job while your probate case is pending. If your child gets sick at the last minute or you can’t get time off work one day, you’ll quickly learn how hard it can be to get a court to reset an important hearing or meeting;
  • You’re uncertain if a court interpreter can meet all of your needs. While these court employees (or outside contractors) work very hard to help those who can’t easily speak English or write clearly – they aren’t authorized to provide any type of legal advice;
  • Parties handling probate matters often need strong negotiating skills.

If one or more of these issues greatly trouble you, it’s nearly always best to hire an experienced Minnesota probate lawyer to represent you.

Minnesota Probate Attorneys

If you have questions about the the nomination of personal representative process and/or Minnesota probates, contact Flanders Law Firm LLC at 612-424-0398.

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