Every year, the market for estate lawyers and attorneys in the United States generates over $16 billion in revenue. There are more than 211,000 of these businesses around the country to provide for all of this demand. More than 630,000 people in the country work on helping people take care of their estate planning.
How is a layperson supposed to know which of the more than 200,000 estate planning businesses out there is the right choice for them? Applying the right techniques will help you find quality estate planning services even if you are inexperienced with the industry.
So what do you need to emphasize when you are considering your candidates for estate planning services? Read on to learn about the most vital steps to take when you are selecting an estate planner!
Review Your Will and Trust Status
Some people jump right away to investigating different estate attorneys. However, this can cause the selection process to take much longer than necessary. You can save a lot of time during the selection process by taking a few simple and careful steps before you begin in earnest.
First of all, take the time to review your will and trust status. Reviewing your current status may help you to remember important details about what you are going to need from your estate planner.
Later, when you are thinking about which estate planner is the right choice for you, you can reference this information. This is also a good time to start thinking about what other qualifications your ultimate choice for an estate planner will need to meet.
Know What You Need From an Estate Planner
Sit down and write a list of what you want from an estate planner. These can include things like skill, qualifications, and a track record of high levels of performance. On the other hand, they might also include things like distance, cost, and whether a candidate provides remote meeting opportunities.
There may be other unique qualifications that your estate planner will need to have. Whatever is important to you, write it down. You may also find it helpful to distinguish between something that is a deal breaker on your list and something that would be a nice extra.
When it comes to geography, decide whether it really matters to you that your estate planner works close to your location. There are many estate planners who help clients who do not live in their immediate vicinity.
If you are willing to work with candidates who work farther away, you will greatly multiply your available pool of choices. If you are having trouble finding a good candidate, then opening up your pool of candidates can solve this problem.
Find an Option With Malpractice Insurance
For the most part, it is up to each individual what they prioritize most when it comes to choosing an estate planning attorney. However, everyone should make a point to look for lawyers that provide malpractice insurance. This simple thing can reveal a long list of positive traits about an estate lawyer.
For example, malpractice insurance is a sign that an estate planning lawyer is confident in their abilities. It is also an indicator that they are well-organized and attentive to detail. Even if something does end up going wrong, if your estate planning attorney has malpractice insurance, you will be protected from many potential problems.
Consider Many Estate Planning Lawyer Options
At this point, you are ready to start putting together a list of estate planning lawyer candidates to consider. Keep in mind that considering more candidates will improve the chance that you end up with a great estate planning lawyer.
Many people do not want to consider too many candidates because they are concerned that it will make the selection process take too long. However, we will use certain techniques in this article that make it much faster to sort through many different candidates.
One easy way to create a long list of possible estate planning lawyers to hire is by using a search engine. However, the results you find on a search engine will not be based on your unique preferences. If you want more customized options, then it may be helpful for you to speak with others and ask them for recommendations.
Find Will and Trust Attorney Recommendations
Think about anybody you know who has some experience with estate planning attorneys. Most people have someone in their extended family or circle of friends and acquaintances whom they can speak with. You may also know lawyers or other professionals who can point you toward an estate planning lawyer that they recommend.
When you ask people for recommendations, be prepared to tell them what you are looking for. To this end, consider preparing an abbreviated version of your list of preferences for your ultimate choice. The more people understand what you are looking for, the more they can change their recommendations based on your unique circumstances.
You can also ask if there are any estate planning lawyers that people recommend you avoid. If you can remove some of the candidates from your list, it will be easier to sort through the candidates that remain.
Look for Relevant Experience
There are many different ways to assess the level of skill that an estate planning attorney provides. However, it can be difficult for a layperson to apply many of these assessments. For someone without knowledge of the industry, the most reliable indicator to look at might be career experience.
All else equal, more experience tends to correlate with higher levels of performance. That is one reason why so many estate planning lawyers talk about all of the years and decades of experience they have. However, many people misunderstand something about practicing law.
Many lawyers will practice multiple areas of the law at the same time. A genuine estate planning attorney might also be a tax lawyer on the side. Of course, that also means that someone who has dedicated their career to tax law might also be an estate planning attorney on the side.
Suppose that this tax lawyer has 40 years of experience. That means that they can honestly report that they are an estate planning attorney with 40 years of experience as a lawyer. However, that will not make them comparable to an attorney who has made estate planning a special focus of their career for 40 years.
As you assess your options, start by looking for how much experience they have. However, you should make a point of finding out how much of that experience has been dedicated to estate planning services. The more of their career that a lawyer has devoted to estate planning, the better the chance that they will provide you with excellent estate planning results.
Read Estate Attorney Reviews
You should now have a list of candidates as well as an understanding of their experience. That may give you some sense of which candidates you are more likely to end up choosing. However, you may change your mind as we go through the last few steps in the selection process.
First, take a few minutes to look for the overall rating for each option on your list. In general, the lower the overall rating a company or lawyer has, the worst their performance.
This is not a strong enough rule that you can abbreviate the selection process by choosing whoever has the highest overall rating. However, this may be a good time for you to remove a few of your candidates with the poorest ratings from your list.
Next, you can move on to looking at written reviews. Read through two or three written reviews for each of the candidates still on your list. As you finish with each candidate, make a note of whether they seem like a top candidate to you.
Once you are done, go back through your top candidates and read more of their reviews in detail. When you finish with this process, you should have one or a few candidates that end up at the top.
At that point, it will be up to you which of those candidates you choose to hire. If you change your mind about your first choice, you can always go back to one of the other candidates that you designated as a potential top choice.
Understand How to Choose Estate Planning Services
When it comes time to choose estate planning services, it is important to do your due diligence. Rushing through this process and choosing the first estate planning attorney you come across is taking an unnecessary gamble. Putting in the time and effort to find the right attorney for your situation will more than pay for itself in the long run.
To learn more about how to find the best estate planning services for your situation, reach out and get in touch with us here at any time!