There are two primary situations in which you may be in need of an estate attorney. First, this type of lawyer can be vital when it comes to your estate planning needs, goals, and objectives. Second, and estate attorney can be invaluable if not absolutely necessary when involved in the probate process. Noting these points, there are some specific factors to bear in mind and look for when you seek an estate lawyer.
Experience is Crucial
Probate and estate law is one of the most complicated areas in which an attorney in California and across the United States can practice. For this reason, when seeking an estate attorney, you need to be very certain that you select legal counsel that has definite experience in probate and estate law.
Indeed, you need to take this a step further. If you are in need of estate planning assistance, you need to select a lawyer that focuses his or her practice in this area of the law. If you face the prospect of probating an estate, you need to find an attorney that concentrates his or her practice in this area.
When you are seeking and estate lawyer, you are wise to obtain recommendations from family, friends, and professional colleagues. Odds are very strong that you’ve associates in your life who’ve needed the professional assistance of an estate and probate lawyer. These individuals can provide you with recommendations for an attorney in this area of practice. In addition, based on personal experience, individuals in your life may also be able to provide you information about estate attorneys to avoid.
Schedule an Initial Consultation
A vital component of seeking an estate lawyer is taking full advantage of an initial consultation. The typical estate and probate attorney provides a prospective client with an initial consultation at no cost and no obligation. You should treat an initial consultation quite like you are interviewing a person for a job – because, in reality, that is really what you are doing.
As you undertake your search for an estate attorney, you might want to strive to narrow the field to three “finalists.” You should contemplate selecting three estate lawyers as finalists and schedule initial consultations with these professionals.
Prepare Specific Questions for an Initial Appointment
In advance of an initial consultation with a prospective estate lawyer you need to prepare a comprehensive list of questions. While you certainly want to engage in conversation with a lawyer you are thinking about hiring that isn’t overly stilted, you nonetheless need to make sure that all key questions are raised and answered during a preliminary appointment. The surest way to see that this is accomplished is to diligently prepare a set of fundamental questions before an initial consultation. You should strive to develop a list of between 12 to 20 important questions.
Get References From a Prospective Estate Lawyer
During an initial consultation with a prospective estate attorney you will want to obtain references from legal counsel. Ideally, references should include prior clients and colleagues. This allows you to obtain a broader picture of the abilities and professionalism of an estate and probate lawyer.
A common mistake that an untold number of people make is failing to follow through and actually contact references. You do want to reach out to these individuals and obtain their insights about a particular lawyer.
You can consult online reviews of estate attorneys. However, you need to take these reviews with a grain of salt, and sometimes a large one. You are more likely to obtain better information about a lawyer from people in your life who provide recommendations and attorneys that provide references.
Fully Understand the Fee Structure
The most common area in which clients and attorneys run into conflicts is over fees. Thus, when you’re undertaking due diligence in advance of hiring an estate lawyer, you need to make very certain that you understand the fee structure. In addition, you need to be aware of any other costs that an estate lawyer might assess in addition to the basic fee for services.
You may find some fee variations among probate and estate lawyers in your community. However, you are likely to find that the fees among estate and probate lawyers in your community are all fairly similar.
Obtain a Written Contract for Services
Finally, when looking for a suitable estate attorney, when you have made the decision to retain a lawyer, you need to obtain a contract for written services. The contract needs to include specific provisions regarding fees and costs.
By employing and utilizing these suggestions, you will undertake an appropriate course of due diligence in advance of hiring legal counsel. You will place yourself in a solid position to select an estate and probate attorney that will provide you the services you require in a professional manner.