When you hire an attorney for estate planning, help administering a loved one’s estate, or any other legal matter, you want to make sure the work gets done as quickly as possible and at the best possible value. Here are some tips to have the most useful and value-oriented law firm experience.
- Get to know the lawyer and the law firm You’ll be working with the entire team, so it’s a good idea to know who to reach out to at the office. Paralegals and office assistants are employed by the lawyer to help you. Make sure you are comfortable with each person on the team.
- The more organized you are, the easier and more efficient the entire process will be. Provide copies of documents as soon as possible when they are requested. This will save the lost time and delays caused when your lawyer must wait for documents before proceeding with your matter.
- Keep your original documents in a secure place and only bring in copies (unless the original of a particular document is specifically requested). It’s always a good idea, however, to bring the original will to the first meeting when you need to probate a loved one’s estate or administer their trust. Your lawyer will also need an original death certificate in those situations.
- Be brutally honest with your attorney about your situation. Give the whole story so that the advice you receive (and pay for) is information based on real facts and not a sanitized version of them. Your attorney is not there to judge, but rather to develop solutions to the issues you and your family are facing.
- Bring a list of goals, concerns, and questions to each meeting so you can cover everything you want to discuss. Feel free to take notes during the meetings and ask your attorney to explain anything you don’t fully understand. Remember, it’s your meeting and your case – your satisfaction and peace of mind should always be a priority, both for your lawyer and for you.
- Carefully review your fee agreement so you understand how you’ll be charged for services rendered. Ask about fees for phone calls, emails, plan reviews, amendments, or special circumstances. Where possible, avoid hourly billing as this inhibits attorney-client communication, gets in the way of trust, and doesn’t give you a clear picture of the total cost involved to work with the law firm.
In summary, when you hire a law firm, you gain access to a team of attorneys, legal support staff, and administrative professionals who are there to help you achieve your legal goals. You should feel confident your entire legal team is working together on your behalf to provide the best client experience and the best value for the price. If you’re not sure that’s exactly what you’d be getting from a firm, walk away and find one that gives you that confidence. Trust and estate matters are far too important to settle for anything less.
Dedicated to empowering your family, building your wealth and securing your legacy,