Choosing an estate planning attorney takes time and careful consideration. Your goal should be finding an attorney you trust who (1) listens to and addresses your concerns and (2) is knowledgeable about how to translate your needs into an estate plan.
California has thousands of attorneys who offer estate planning services, so narrowing down your choices can be daunting. Look for an attorney who aligns with your needs. For example, if you have many questions about your estate but are not getting answers from your attorney within a reasonable time, it may not be a good fit. Also, you may have personal preferences such as working with a local attorney you can meet in person. Think about your needs as a client when narrowing down your options.
You can expect different attorneys to have different styles of working. Some offer initial case evaluations, and some do initial phone screening before an in-person meeting. Some attorneys prefer to meet in person for all discussions with you, while others communicate through email and phone unless you need to come into the office to sign documents. A good estate planning attorney will answer your questions and explain why you need certain documents, no matter their communication style.
The attorney you select should have knowledge and experience in the areas for which you need legal help. Not all attorneys who handle personal estate planning also handle probate and complex trust administration. If you need an attorney who can advise you on multiple issues, such as personal estate planning and handling a contentious trust dispute, look for someone with experience in both areas. Review the attorney’s website, qualifications, and any testimonials to determine their knowledge and experience, as well as asking the attorney about your specific legal issue.
When working with your attorney, she should identify your legal issues and offer possible solutions to address those issues in a concrete way. For example, if you go to a case evaluation meeting and tell the attorney you need a will, the attorney should inquire about other types of estate planning documents you may need. Along with your will, you may need a power of attorney and a revocable trust. An attorney who simply drafts the will and moves on may not be addressing your broader estate planning needs.
In the end, selecting an estate planning attorney requires finding the right fit. Do not be afraid to consult with several attorneys before choosing one. You can change attorneys partway through the representation if you so choose. Ultimately, you trust your estate planning attorney with so much personal and financial information that you should choose someone who gives you peace of mind that your estate plan will reflect your wishes.
Planning your estate? Angela Klenk, Esq. and the team at Beach Cities Estate Law couple personalized attention to your estate plan with big law firm experience for a winning combination to give you peace of mind. To schedule a case evaluation, visit Beach Cities Estate Law online or call (424) 400-2125.