As is the case with any other profession, not all attorneys are the same. Attorneys all have different qualifications and specialties. Many attorneys will be more than happy to create an estate plan for you, but that does not mean the quality of the estate plan will be the same.
Just as some doctors are better at performing brain surgery than others, some attorneys are better at estate planning.
The Times Herald recently posted a list of questions to ask attorneys about estate planning that can help you decide which attorney to pick in “Six questions you should ask your estate planning attorney.”
The questions include:
Ask how much of the attorney’s practice is estate planning. This will tell you if the attorney is a specialist or just someone who does estate planning occasionally.
Ask whether the attorney offers comprehensive estate planning or whether an attorney just focuses on a few areas in the field.
Ask the attorney whether they focus on trying to reduce costs or whether their practice is to make money when the estate goes through probate. Sometimes attorneys that seem cheaper upfront are actually looking to make more through probate.
Ask whether the attorney can help you title and transfer your assets to a trust or whether you will have to seek out another professional to do that.
Ask how many hours of continuing education on estate planning the attorney takes. The longer the hours, the more up to date on the law the attorney is likely to be.
Ask the attorney how much you will need to do to make sure the attorney has all the information necessary to create your estate plan. The more information that is provided by you, the more likely you are to get the best estate plan.
Ask if they are Certified Specialists approved by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization in the area of estate planning. http://ls.calbar.ca.gov/LegalSpecialization/FAQ.aspx
When in doubt, ask around and research attorneys online and most importantly, interview them before making a decision.