When you hire an attorney for estate planning, help with a loved one’s estate, or any other legal matter, you want to make sure that the work gets done as quickly as possible and at the best possible value. Here are some tips to have the most useful and valuable experience.
Get to know the lawyer and the law firm staff. You could be working with several members of the 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. For hourly cases (like many probate cases), the more you can accomplish with a paralegal or assistant rather than the attorney, the lower your bill could be since they usually have lower billable rates.
The more organized you are, the easier and more efficient the entire process will be. Bring copies of all requested documents in a binder or another organized way. This will save you the cost of having a paralegal review and organize the information for you—and maybe even a trip to the office or additional meeting in the event something is forgotten.
Keep your original documents in a secure place and only bring in your originals if we request the original of a particular document. That being said, it’s always a good idea to bring the original will to the first meeting when you need to probate a loved one’s estate.
Be brutally honest with your attorney about your situation and your thoughts on the advice we’re offering to you. Give the whole story so that the advice you receive and pay for is information based on your real circumstances and not a sanitized version of them. We’re not here to judge; we’re here to develop solutions to the issues that you and your family are facing. If you have second thoughts about the advice you receive or don’t plan to follow through with it, let us know so we can ensure that you and your family’s interests are protected.
Bring a list of goals, concerns, and questions to every meeting so you can cover everything you want to discuss during your meeting instead of incurring the cost (and hassle) of a phone call or additional meeting to ask a question you forgot about.
When you meet with the attorney or with a paralegal, feel free to take notes because you’re probably not going to remember everything. Ask us to explain something that you don’t understand or to repeat something to be sure you write it down correctly. Remember, it’s your meeting and your case. You should always feel satisfied that you’re receiving enough information.
Carefully review your fee agreement so you understand how you’ll be charged for services rendered. If you have billing questions that you can’t answer by referring to the contract or your statements, call us for an explanation. It always better to have open communication about the financial aspects of representation.
In summary, when you hire a law firm, you also gain access to a team of legal support and administrative professionals so that your estate planning or other legal goals can be achieved. Your legal team works together on your behalf to provide the best client representation at the best possible price. Contact us to get started on your estate plan or to update an existing plan.