How to Choose a Qualified Lawyer
Tip #1: Choose an attorney who specializes in estate planning. Other attorneys simply don’t have the knowledge, skill, judgment or experience to plan your estate properly.
Tip #2: Choose an attorney you trust. Nothing is more important in a lawyer/client relationship than having a lawyer you trust.
Tip #3: Choose an attorney who creates your estate plan himself. If the attorney has an assistant create your estate plan, then why hire the attorney? Note, it’s not uncommon for lawyers in solo practice to ask a funding coordinator to transfer property into your trust. Even so, funding is a fairly routine function and you are well protected as long as the lawyer supervises the process.
Tip #4: Choose an attorney who provides excellent service. Anything less is not acceptable.
Tip #5: Choose an attorney who welcomes your questions — and structures meetings by allowing enough time to answer questions. High-volume practices have short appointments so they can move clients quickly through the process. I don’t know about you, but this is not the level of service I expect when I hire a lawyer.
Tip #6: Choose an attorney who will return your phone calls quickly. You should never hire a lawyer who won’t respond promptly to your needs.
Tip #7: Choose an attorney who has roots in the community. This attorney cares about his reputation and is more likely to be available in the future when you need help.
Tip #8: Choose an attorney who is a respected source of information — one who has dedicated his practice to helping people understand their estate planning alternatives.
Tip #9: Choose an attorney who charges fair fees. At best, you get what you pay for. Most people do not shop for the cheapest doctor. Instead, they focus on the doctor’s qualifications and experience. You should apply the same principle when selecting an estate planning attorney. If the fee is too low, the lawyer may be leaving something out. Make sure the fee you pay and the services you receive are of equal value.
Tip #10: Choose an attorney who offers free initial consultations. Shouldn’t you be able to talk with the lawyer for free before you decide whether to hire him?
Also, ask specific questions about your estate and your objectives, such as: “How do I protect my children from abusive relatives if something happens to me?” “Can I keep my kids from controlling their entire inheritance at age 18?” “Can I protect my children’s money from creditors?” “How can I leave money for my child’s education?”