"I have contacted the probate court and was told that I did not have to go through that court since there were no assets and I should call civil court."
That's not true. I'd contact a local estate-probate attorney for the particulars. Remember, the clerks who answer the phone are not lawyers and, in this case, it appears whomever you talked to was simply using this as a way to blow you off.
Unless you are able to figure out what proper forms to fill out and file, yes, you need a lawyer.