What To Expect From the Probate Process As Someone With ADHD

Wooden letters on a desk spelling out the world “probate” alongside a wooden toy house and a court gavel.

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When my father passed, he didn’t leave a will, and no one in my immediate family could offer much in the way of advice on “what comes next.” I was left trying to figure out this complex legal situation while grieving with ADHD, which made it even harder to keep sailing through significant change.

Navigating probate court when you have ADHD can feel like an overwhelming journey filled with daunting paperwork, deadlines, and legal jargon. If you’re finding yourself in a similar situation, let me break down the probate process into manageable steps and make it easier for you to stay on track.

Understanding Probate

Probate is a legal process that occurs after someone passes away to distribute their assets and settle any debts. It involves validating the deceased person’s (or the decedent’s) will, if one exists, and appointing an executor or administrator to manage the estate.

In my situation, the probate process primarily involved three individuals: an estate attorney I hired, a court-appointed attorney, and of course, the judge. Don’t let these professionals intimidate you—they are all aware you are experiencing a loss and are ready to help you through this legal situation.

Gathering Essential Documents

One of the first steps in the probate process is gathering all necessary documents. For me, this step was the most intimidating and the point in the timeline where my ADHD posed the most significant challenge. Your attorney can give you an idea of the documents you need.

If you struggle with organization and attention to detail, I recommend creating a checklist and setting small, achievable goals. Utilizing apps or digital tools can also keep everything in one place. And don’t forget to ask for help—grief and ADHD can make your progress grind to a halt, and having someone there to pick up where you leave off makes such a difference.

Managing Deadlines and Court Appearances

Probate involves strict deadlines and multiple court appearances, which can be tricky to manage when you have ADHD. While my attorney was very patient with me, I never really understood the deadlines we faced. Looking back, I wish I had used a digital calendar with reminders for the important dates. Having a way to visualize the timeline would have made me more cognizant of what I needed to do and, more importantly, more able to recognize how much I accomplished. If possible, enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member to provide some accountability.

Communicating With Professionals

Working with legal professionals, such as attorneys and financial advisors, is a key part of the probate process. I found that clear and consistent communication was crucial, but it can be tough if you struggle with focus and follow-through. Make sure to write down any questions or concerns before meetings. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if something isn’t clear or ask your lawyer for a follow-up email covering what you discussed (and don’t worry, they’re used to it).

Remember, it’s their job to help you understand the process, so don’t feel shy about seeking their guidance at any time. Even after we finished our work in the courtroom, I was still relying on my attorney to help me understand the legal fees I needed to handle. For those in The Golden State, understanding California’s probate fees is especially crucial, and without an attorney’s advice, things can be really unclear.

In my experience, going through probate court when you have ADHD requires a mix of practical strategies and supportive resources. By breaking down the process into smaller, more manageable tasks, you can stay on track and reduce stress. Stay organized, seek help when needed, and remember to take things one step at a time. You’ve got this!

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Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle is the writer of Lacyestelle.com and the Podcast host for An ADD Woman.

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