So you’ve decided to start your estate planning. Your first step is to look for an estate planning lawyer who will assist you in the process. (You can execute a will or a living trust without the help of an attorney, but that move is fraught with risks. So, you’re better off with an attorney.)
The task of looking for an estate planning lawyer may seem daunting. But you can make your task easier by seeking the help of knowledgeable people. These people deal with estate planning lawyers, perhaps on a daily basis. The resource people include your life insurance agent, lawyer, accountant and a very successful friend of yours. Life insurance agents deal in estate planning with life insurance as the cornerstone of the estate plan. Your life insurance agent or his company may have an estate planning attorney whom they consult on legal matters. On the other hand, your accountant and lawyer will certainly know an estate planning lawyer. You can ask them for information about the estate planning lawyer that they deal with.
But the person who can you the most information is your successful friend or acquaintance. (Estate planning is for everyone, but very successful or affluent people may feel the need for it more than other people.) Your successful friend will be more than happy to share with you who his estate planning attorney is, how he arrived at his decision to pick the lawyer, and how he is as an estate planning attorney. Indeed, a lot of very useful information.
Now, the names provided by your resource people are only a starting point in your search for an estate planning lawyer. What they have done is quickly narrow down your choice from the scores of lawyers and law offices in your phone directory. After getting their names, you may want to view their websites. You simply key in the name of the lawyer or law office and see the website. You may read blogs of the law office, which may give you an idea of the expertise of the lawyer. It is important that you focus on lawyers who specialize in wills, trusts and probates rather than on lawyers in which estate planning is just one of their areas of practice.
From the website (and from your resource people), you can get the contact details of your short-listed lawyers. It would be good if you can arrange a face-to-face meeting with your prospective lawyer. From your interview with the lawyer you may try to ascertain the following: Does the lawyer seem authoritative about estate planning? Does he offer you options as to how you can approach your estate planning? Lastly, are you comfortable with the person? After all is said and done, it all boils down to the lawyer’s competence – and your level of comfort with him. If you are comfortable with your lawyer both as a professional and as a person, then you may decide to appoint him.