Since my practice is based in California (yes, I'm a licensed attorney and Your Wealth Bestfriend™️), I've been helping people around the nation find estate planning attorneys in their area. One thing that stood out to me was, people didn't know what questions they should be asking when they received a referral or wandered across an estate planner's website they liked.
You should interview ANYONE you plan to hire. Once you have scheduled an initial consultation with an estate planning attorney here are a few questions to ask them:
1. How long have you been practicing law?
This question is important to determine an attorney’s work history and credibility. There is a major difference between someone who has practiced for 10 or 20 years versus someone who is fresh out of law school. You can also double-check their answer by going to the state bar website. You also need someone who is up-to-date on the laws so more time practicing doesn’t always mean better. Those who may have a deeper understanding are those attorneys who have spent time as a trustee, private fiduciary, or executor.
2. What percentage of your practice is devoted to Estate Planning and why did you choose this area of the law?
Estate planning isn’t usually the only area of law attorney’s practice mostly because it is transactional, they draft documents, and then they may not see those clients again for a few years. So, you should ask this question to see if estate planning is a primary part of their business. Additionally, after Covid-19, many attorneys decided to learn about estate planning so it would be good to know how long they have been drafting estate plans and why they started. Depending on your need, you want to be sure that the attorney can handle a case-specific to yours. If you want to create a Trust but the majority of the Attorney’s practice centers around Wills and litigating probate matters you know you might be in the wrong place. Proceed with the attorney only if they answer the majority of their practice is dedicated to estate planning because you want to make sure they will be current with all changes to legal statutes and have the necessary strategic know-how to carefully word your documents in the most effective way possible.