Once you've decided that it's time to hire an attorney who specializes in estate planning, how do you go about doing so? It can be challenging to know where to start! "Where should I look? What questions should I ask initially? How do I know when I've found the right attorney for my legal needs?"
Here are a few tips for finding a good fit for your estate planning needs.
1. Look for an attorney in your area. Ask family and friends if they have any recommendations for any local attorneys. We also suggest checking out sites such as Avvo to help find attorneys highly rated and recommended in the area.
2. Take a look at their website to ensure they carry a professional appearance online. For example, does their website have a bio for their attorneys? Does it answer some of the questions you have? Does their website give a level of trust in their office?
3. Call to ask some opening questions.
How long have they been practicing?
What percentage of their practice is dedicated to estate planning?
Do they have any experience in our areas of concern?
Could they refer you to other experts if help is needed in other areas?
What will an initial consultation cost? Most estate planning lawyers will require a fee for the initial consultation.
How long have they been practicing in their state?
How much experience do they have with their state law?
If they are not available and you need help with something, will someone else in their office be available to answer your questions?
What is the best contact method for getting a prompt response to your questions should you choose to retain their office?
Most quality attorneys will need time to return the call due to their level of busy-ness. Be sure to allow time for the initial contact to be made. If necessary, make a phone appointment with the receptionist or attorney's assistant for the attorney to return the call. It is also important to recognize that this initial phone call is more of an interview, and should not be used as a time to discuss the specific situation or obtain legal advice. The goal is to determine whether you would like to meet the attorney in person.
4. Narrow down your search to one or two attorneys that you would like to meet. Ask yourself who was polite and professional, whose office staff was friendly, and who you felt best understood our legal needs when planning your estate. Then contact their office to set up a meeting.
Ask the receptionist or assistant if any information or documents are needed for this first meeting to ensure the attorney has all they need to best assist you in your planning. Also, ask if there is anything you can do to prepare for the meeting. The attorney may have information on their website or another website that they want to be read beforehand.
If at any point during this process you start to feel uncertain with the attorney, keep looking! You do not want to use an attorney with whom you do not feel confident.
5. Meet with the attorney(s) and select the right one for you. We know this face-to-face step is important for most everyone. That's why we offer a FREE initial meeting. We want to find out if our team is the right fit for you, and that your estate planning needs are a fit for us.
We'd love to see if we can meet your legal needs!
2 comments on “5 Things to Know When You Hire an Estate Planning Attorney”
My wife and I think it’s time to plan out our estate, so this is good to know. I’ll be sure to ask our friends to see if they have any recommendations. We definitely want a lawyer, and I definitely only want to work with the best.
I liked your suggestion of checking the website of the attorney to see if they provide good details about the bio as well as the credentials of the attorney. The bio matters to me because that will also provide me with a lot of information regarding their experience. Experience is important because my grandma needs an estate planning lawyer that can manager her multimillion worth of assets. It is not something that we can mess around with.
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