Choosing an estate planning attorney is like buying a weed eater.
Allow me to explain from my own experience.
A few years ago, I was looking for a weed eater to help me trim around objects in the lawn before mowing.
And I wanted one that was ran on a rechargeable lithium battery, with lots of ratings and reviews.
What did i do?
I did what you likely do.
I searched the internet.
As I compared weed eaters, I began narrowing my choices based on the number of ratings and reviews for each make and model.
After that, I read all of the reviews, both good and bad.
In short order, I selected the weed eater with the most ratings, with the highest ratings, and with glowing reviews.
That was four years ago and the weed eater is still going strong, performing just as described online (with the extra battery, as recommended by raving fan users).
So it is with estate planning attorneys.
There seem to be so many estate planning attorneys and estate planning law firms.
Consequently, it can be challenging to find just the right one for your own estate planning.
I get that.
You do not want to spend a lot of time “shopping around” either.
A recent article from Diving Daily identified “5 Factors to Consider When Choosing an Estate Planning Law Firm.”
Here they are:
Your Specific Needs. Before you look for an estate planning attorney, first determine what it is you need from the attorney.
Consider the intricacies of your estate and whether it has any complexities and special considerations.
This will help you narrow down the list of attorneys who can help you.
Experience. Working with an inexperienced law firm or attorney will only work to your detriment.
Who wants to be the first heart surgery patient for a newly-minted surgeon?
You typically want to look for a attorney with at least five years of experience in estate planning.
Fees. The “spend” should not be your primary consideration when selecting an estate planning attorney, but it is still worth mentioning.
Make certain you find an attorney you can afford.
However, this does not mean you should hire the cheapest attorney you can find.
In most cases, just like with a cheap weed eater, you will end up getting what you pay for.
Instead, find a attorney with reasonable pricing for the services and results you are seeking.
Reputation. You want an estate planning attorney who has made a name for his or herself in estate planning law.
Look at reviews and testimonials online.
For example, these are the go-to directories attorneys rely upon when vetting other attorneys.
In addition, run a “google” search for estate planning attorneys in your local area.
As they say, you can run, but you cannot hide … on the internet.
With these online directories you can browse and compare estate planning attorneys without first sitting across from them to share your confidential family and financial details.
As with weed eaters, look for attorneys with highest and most ratings, then drill down and read the reviews of their actual clients before reaching out to schedule an initial consultation.
Those client reviews, like the ones I read when choosing my weed eater, will help you decide which attorney is worth your time and money.
Attitude. As Ronald Reagan famously quipped when dealing with his Russian counterparts during the Cold War: “Trust, but verify.”
If you want to “double down” on your due diligence before baring your soul to an attorney, make an in-person appointment with the attorney before making your decision.
That way you can meet eyeball to eyeball to evaluate the attitude and demeanor of the attorney.
You will want an attorney who is friendly and easy to talk to.
While you are at it, note his or her professionalism and knowledge of estate planning.
Make a list of questions you want to ask as you plan your estate.
In conclusion, weed eaters may not be estate planning attorneys, but when it comes to choosing either, the internet and your intuition can help you make the right choice.
Reference: Diving Daily (April 26, 2022) “5 Factors to Consider When Choosing an Estate Planning Law Firm”