If you need the assistance of a lawyer for your last will and testament, the first step is to compile a list of possible options. Get recommendations from people you know and trust, as well as from other lawyers…
The next step is to set up a consultation with the lawyer during which you can inquire about the services offered and the cost. For the greatest representation, look for an attorney who is both knowledgeable and personable.
Finding a Lawyer in California
Reach out to the local bar association. Your state or local bar association can provide you with a referral. To locate your local bar association, Google your state or city plus the phrase “lawyer recommendation.”
Who’s Patron Saint and Esquire
Many legal groups guarantee that their member lawyers will not charge more than $40 for an initial session.
Ask friends and family
You can inquire if the lawyer they hired for their will or estate plan was one they would recommend if you are in need of one. Note down the name.
You shouldn’t hire someone just because they were suggested by someone you know personally. To varying degrees, everyone has unique legal requirements.
Some people hate lawyers – Why?
Your sister may have been quite satisfied with her will attorney because of the reasonable rates the attorney charged. However, you may place a higher priority on effective communication abilities than low cost.
Ask another lawyer
You might have used a lawyer when you got divorced or bought or sold a house. If you need help creating a will, you should ask him for a referral to a good attorney.
You can put your trust in the advice of attorneys because they are a reliable source of referrals. They are all familiar with one another and can recommend the best lawyers and warn you about the worst ones.
A lawyer may have also enlisted the services of a specialist to assist in the creation of his own will.
Use an online directory
Before the Internet, 30 years ago, people used phone books to locate legal representation. Now, you have access to a variety of internet directories.
Lawyers’ profiles can be found on sites like syedblogs, Martindale-Hubbell, and Nolo. Locating a lawyer in your area is as simple as doing a web search.
Using of Technology by lawyers
The lawyer’s websites are included in these directories. Websites exist for the express purpose of locating a person possessing the requisite expertise.
Get in touch with previous attorneys you’ve worked with and see if they can recommend anyone.
Research the attorney
The next step after gathering recommendations is to investigate each lawyer individually. The majority of attorneys have websites that should include useful information. There are typical items to search for:
Experience. Determine whether the attorney creates wills as part of regular practice or as a specialty. Each attorney’s website should detail his or her experience. Look for someone with experience drafting wills.
Expertise. Check whether the attorney is a certified specialist. In some states, it is possible to become a certified specialist in a particular area of law. If a lawyer has a specialty, it is likely in “Estate Planning and Probate” or “Estates and Trusts.”
To become a recognized specialist, attorneys must often devote a specified portion of their practice to the area and complete continuing education courses. The majority of states also require lawyers to pass a written exam.
Membership in attorney associations. There are numerous associations for attorneys who draught wills.
The American Association of Estate Planning Attorneys is one example. Membership in an organization demonstrates a lawyer’s awareness of recent developments in the law.
Contact information: The lawyer’s contact information should include phone numbers and an email address. If one or more are absent from the website, the attorney may not be easily accessible.
Overall presentation: Verify if the website has a professional appearance. Exist any typographical or grammatical errors? If so, you may choose an attorney who presents with a bit more care.
Check the lawyer’s disciplinary record
Prior to scheduling an appointment with a lawyer, you should review lawyer’s disciplinary record.
Each state has bodies that investigate attorney complaints. If the complaint is valid, the board will sanction the attorney and write a notation on his or her record.
You can check for punishments by visiting the disciplinary board of your state’s attorney general. Enter “your state” and “attorney discipline” into a search engine to locate the board. You ought to be able to search by attorney’s name.
Scheduling an Appointment
Call the lawyers
The vast majority of attorneys offer prospective clients an initial consultation. Typically, they last 15 to 30 minutes. You should contact the attorneys and request a consultation.
Be sure to inquire about any potential fees. Some attorneys provide free initial consultations. If a lawyer charges a fee, the lawyer will frequently charge a reduced cost. Before booking a consultation, inquire.
Gather requested documents
You should gather any paperwork the attorneys instruct you to bring to the consultation. For instance, the attorney may ask that you bring the following:
A reasonable assessment of your assets, copies of any previous wills, and life insurance policies
Inquire whether a beneficiary has ever successfully challenged a will in court. If many will have been contested, the attorney may have been careless when preparing them.
Prepare questions concerning the attorney’s experience
If the attorney has a general practice, you can inquire during the meeting as to what percentage of her business has been devoted to will drafting.
Additionally, you should inquire whether the attorney has drafted wills for clients similar to yourself.
For instance, if you have a large, complex estate, you should ask the attorney if he or she has drafted a will for a similar estate. Some lawyers may have only drafted straightforward wills for small estates.
Inquire whether a beneficiary has ever successfully challenged a will in court. If many wills have been contested, the attorney who drafted them may have been careless.
Prepare questions regarding the experience of the attorney. If the attorney has a general practice, you can inquire during the meeting as to what percentage of her business has been devoted to will drafting.
Ask about the scope of the lawyer’s services
A lawyer specializing in estate planning can do much more than just create a will. The price tag may not be worth it if you don’t know what you’re getting.
Is it part of the attorney’s retainer to perform routine document reviews? A will drafted in 2016 may require revision in 2018 due to life changes such as the birth of a child or the sale of a home.
Inquire as to whether or not you will be charged every time the lawyer checks your documents.
Do you feel comfortable trusting the lawyer with your money?
You could ask your attorney to advise you on matters such as selecting a suitable life insurance policy or arranging a suitable retirement strategy. Property lawyers may be able to assist with this sort of long-term financial planning.
Do you know if the lawyer verifies the correct ownership of all property? The correct titling of property is essential for transferring assets to heirs.
You might believe you own a piece of property, but the property actually doesn’t include your name. There should be no objection from your attorney to reviewing your estate and making sure everything is in order.
Check if the lawyer drafts living wills
In addition to having a lawyer design your will, you may also want to have them assist you in drafting your “advance healthcare directives,” which include documents like a living will and a medical power of attorney. You need to make sure the attorney offers those services.
If you ever become disabled and unable to express your wishes regarding medical care, your living will serve as a guide for your loved ones to follow.
In the event that you become unable to make choices regarding your health care, medical power of attorney allows you to choose another person to act on your behalf.
Where a living will is silent on a particular type of treatment, the patient’s power of attorney will be responsible for making those decisions.
Ask about fees
It is appropriate to inquire about the cost during the initial session. There are a variety of approaches to determining a lawyer’s fee for drafting a will.
Maybe your lawyer charges a set fee to draught the will. You might also pay the lawyer by the hour.
Verify that the attorney guarantees the work if drafting a will. Not all lawyers, especially those who charge by the hour, can afford to do this.
However, if the attorney charges a flat fee, the lawyer may offer a satisfaction guarantee and return any unused portion of the fee.
Ask about communication styles
How often and in what manner lawyers get in touch with their clients varies greatly. You should inquire about the attorney’s method of keeping clients informed during the consultation.
- Is it preferable to call the law office or send an email?
- When you ask the lawyer a question, how long does it take before you get an answer?
- When you ask the lawyer a question, how long does it take before you get an answer?
Pay attention to how the staff treats you
Comfort between attorney and client is essential. The lawyer and the team should make you feel at ease. Pay attention to the receptionists, secretaries, paralegals, and other staff members’ attitudes toward you during your consultation.
Staff members that are rude or unsupportive may be an indication of problems with the attorney. If a lawyer lets her staff be rude to clients, he or she might not be paying close attention to what goes on in her office.
Choosing a Lawyer
Read online reviews of lawyers
There are client reviews of lawyers on many websites, like Google and Avvo, which you can read if you’re looking for an attorney.
You can’t always trust a review, especially if it’s written by an unknown person. In order to protect their clients’ privacy, lawyers are constrained in their ability to respond to bad online reviews.
Still, you should look at reviews to see if your concerns are shared by other people. For example, you might have found it hard to talk to a lawyer. If reviewers say this in their reviews, then you’ll know you were right.
Pick an attorney
You should look over your notes from each meeting with a lawyer and evaluate each one on its own. Try to find an attorney who meets these requirements:
You feel at ease around the lawyer: When writing a will, you will be talking about personal things, so you want a lawyer you can talk to easily. If the lawyer’s staff was rude or if the lawyer said he or she doesn’t talk to clients very often, you might want to find another one.
The lawyer has enough years of experience: You need a qualified lawyer to help you write a valid will. You should be able to tell from the lawyer’s website and your first meeting with them if they are skilled enough to meet your needs.
The fee charged by the lawyer is fair: You might not be able to pay some fees because they are too high. But you shouldn’t automatically go with the cheapest lawyer. Instead, along with comfort and experience, cost should be one of the things you think about.
Call an attorney
Once you’ve chosen a lawyer, give them a call and tell them you’d like to work with them. The attorney will tell you what to do next.
If you don’t like any of the lawyers you’ve met, you should start over and ask for more recommendations. Make plans for more meetings.
You should also get in touch with the lawyers you interviewed but ultimately decided not to hire via phone or electronic mail. It’s just good manners to do so. You don’t have to explain or say sorry. Just thank them for their time and let them know you’ve decided to vote for someone else.
Read your engagement letter
The lawyer should send you an engagement letter after you hire him or her. This letter will tell you what the lawyer will be responsible for. It should also say how much the lawyer will charge for work.
Read the letter and make sure that the information in it matches what you were told during your appointment. If the fee is different, for example, you should call the lawyer and ask why.
Make sure you understand everything in the engagement letter and agree to it. If something needs to be changed, wait for a copy of the engagement letter that hasn’t been changed before signing it.
Keep the signed copy of the engagement letter in case you need to refer to it later.