There is nothing worse than having an attorney who won’t respond to your inquiries or hear your concerns. To that end, be sure to retain an attorney who is communicative.
In Your Price Range
Finding the right attorney for you means finding one whose services you can afford. With that in mind, all individuals should inquire about costs at the outset of the initial meeting. After all, it would be horrifying to find out (after the fact) that the attorney is charging you per letter, per hearing, or in some other manner that only encourages him or her to drag the case out and to rack up fees.
Also, try to obtain an estimate of what the case will cost to litigate in writing. Then, again in writing, try to secure a contract that will spell out the maximum costs associated with trying your case. This will prevent any unwanted surprises.
Beware of Bar Association Referral Hotlines: The Bar Associations have lawyer referral services (in San Diego County, we have the San Diego County Bar Association Referral Service and North County San Diego County Bar Association Referral Service). Understand that lawyers have signed up and paid a fee to be listed in certain specialties with these referral services. Their names come up on a rotating basis. And also note that the bar association is not making any judgment about who is a good attorney and who is not. They are simply connecting a bar member in good standing with a prospective client.
Look at membership listings for professional groups of estate planners. The best attorneys often are members of professional societies or other groups, where they can share knowledge and experience with other estate planners.
One example is the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. Its members frequently publish articles and present topics at continuing legal education seminars, so if you find an attorney listed as a member you can be more confident that she is an estate planning expert.
You also can search the member directory of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.
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