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Frequently Asked Questions: Attorney/Legal Advice

Do I need an attorney?

An attorney is not required, but it is recommended that you seek legal counsel if you are unsure about any aspect of the procedures.

 

I heard I don't need an attorney because the court will tell me what I need to do.

By law the court staff may not give legal advice, but staff may give forms and explain procedures.  Oakland County Probate Court does have probate specialists available for questions; however, the specialists are not attorneys and cannot give legal advice.

 

Why can't employees give legal advice?

Only lawyers may give legal advice.  The probate counter staff members are not lawyers and are prohibited by law from giving legal advice (MCL 700.1211). However, they may explain procedure.

 

What is "legal advice" vs. "procedure"?

Legal advice is a recommendation as to what particular action an individual should take given a set of certain circumstances. Only lawyers may give legal advice. Procedure is the step-by-step process an individual follows after it is determined which action is best for the particular circumstances.

 

Do you have an attorney on staff I can talk to?

No, however, Oakland County Probate Court does have probate specialists who can answer many of your procedural questions. The Probate Register and the Chief of Probate Estates and Mental Health are attorneys, but they are also bound by the prohibition against giving legal advice.

 

What documents can not be signed by the attorney?

The attorney may not sign an acceptance of appointment, inventory, accounts, receipts of distributive share, sworn statements, or bonds (MCR 5.114).