Choosing an Estate Planning Lawyer in California

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If you’re looking for an estate planning lawyer lawyer in California, you’ll have many places to choose from, the daunting task is not to find the attorney, but to know which one is the best option for you . You shouldn’t just rely on advertisements when making this decision, but rather find a lawyer that is qualified for the job by asking the right kind of questions. These ten suggestions will help you to select the best estate planning lawyer for your needs. 

1. Don’t Put Too Many Limits On Yourself 

You should seek out a lawyer that is licensed to practice in California, or license to place in the your state -if you are in a different state. Although is a good idea not to put geographic limits on your search. Your focus should be on finding the right estate planning attorney to work with. In some instances Estate Planning attorneys that are not from California may be able to help you with preparing your documents as well. It’s also possible that a firm that practices estate law in another state could have a satellite office that is close to you. Open up your options so that you can find the best attorney for the job. 

2. Request a Referral 

Reach out to any financial advisors, CPAs, or lawyers that you’re familiar with. If you do this, you should be able to get a recommendation for an trusted estate planning lawyer. This will allow you to find a qualified professional with the right area of specialty. 

3. Watch Out for Online Directories 

A directory may seem like a useful tool. However, this isn’t always the best way to connect with a qualified attorney. On a near-daily basis, lawyers get solicited by companies that say they’ll include them in a directory in exchange for a substantial fee. More often than not, these online directories are closer to an ad than a collection of specialists. If you do attempt to find your lawyer online, you’ll want to stick to sites that have been verified by a third party. That way, you’ll know that the lawyer did not pay to be listed. Instead, the directory will use a specific set of criteria. As an example, www.avvo.com or AttorneyFee are sites you can trust. 

4. Find a Lawyer That Specializes in Estate Planning 

It’s one thing for a lawyer to claim they handle estate planning. It’s another thing to find an attorney that focuses on estate planning exclusively. When you search for a doctor, you may want to find a specialist, such as a cardiologist or an oncologist. The same is true for attorneys. If you need help with estate planning, you’ll want to work with a professional that focuses on this aspect of the law. When a lawyer specializes in this area, they are more likely to keep up with current laws. They’ll also have expertise that will be relevant to your case. You’ll be able to get more assistance and better advice from an attorney that is focused on estate planning.

5. Avoid Bar Association Referral Hotlines 

It’s common to find attorneys through a referral. However, you won’t want to use the referral services of the Bar Association. The lawyers that you’ll find through this hotline have paid a fee in exchange for being recommended. The names that are provided by the hotline are rotated. Beyond that, you should be aware that the bar association isn’t determining whether or not a lawyer is good at their job. All they are doing is connecting potential clients to members of the bar. 

6. Check to See if the Lawyer is Published 

Find out if the lawyer you’re considering has published books or articles on estate planning. If they have, you’ll want to consult these materials. This is a great way to learn more about an attorney before scheduling a consultation. 

7. Don’t Get Swept Away By Marketing 

A lot of law firms have slogans that sound appealing. However, you shouldn’t make your decision based on an attorney’s marketing campaign. Instead, you should look closely at the attorney’s qualifications and make sure they’re a good fit for you. 

8. Check to See if a Lawyer Has Malpractice Insurance 

You should find out if the lawyer considering has malpractice insurance. If they do, this is a positive sign. Not all states require lawyers to have malpractice insurance. When an attorney does carry an insurance policy, it’s an indicator of accountability. A lawyer that has an insurance policy is the kind of attorney that you can trust. In California, any attorney that is incorporated needs to carry a malpractice insurance policy. If a lawyer does not have a policy, they are in violation of the California State Bar Association

9. Look At the Lawyer’s Educational Background 

When an attorney has graduated from a law school that is difficult to get into, that is a positive side. The ranking systems for law schools have four different tiers. Top tier law skills have stringent requirements. An attorney that has gone to a highly-rated law school is likely to be very qualified. 

10. Look at the Organizations a Lawyer Is a Part Of 

If a lawyer is a member of a professional organization, like WealthCounsel, it’s a sign that they are focused on keeping up with new developments in estate planning. Not only do professional organizations have excellent networking opportunities, but they can be a great educational resource. When you’re working with a professional, you want to ensure that they have stayed up to date with the latest information. Your estate planning lawyer should be familiar with current laws so that they can do more to protect your family and your assets. You wouldn’t want to work with a doctor that has failed to keep up to date with new information, and the same should be true for your lawyer.

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