When planning your financial life it is important that an attorney be involved. Finding the correct attorney for you can be challenging and complicated. It is usually appropriate that the attorney you work with should also be one that you will be comfortable. The decisions made during the planning process can be extremely important and great thought should be placed in the process.
Each state has a bar association and asking them for a referral is easy and can get the ball rolling. Asking your financial professional for a referral may also be an avenue to explore.
It is important to find the best qualified attorney that you can afford. Explain to the attorney the purpose of their services and an outline of what is expected of them. Attorneys are licensed and are in a position to access the information necessary to complete the tasks expected of them.
It is important to interview the prospective attorney and to ask basic questions.
Here are a few points to use during the interview process.
• Ask about his/her experience. This may seem like a basic question but it is vitally important. Always know how much experience your attorney has.
• Is the attorney part of a group that will provide information outside the attorney’s scope of expertise?
• Does the attorney work in the group you are in, such as baby boomers, seniors or financial areas?
• What work does the attorney do and what is outsourced to staff? How close does the attorney work on the details of your situation?
• Ask about billings and how the attorney calculates the time charge. Is it by the hour or by the job? How are hourly fractions calculated? Is the flat fee approach better for you than the hourly charge, ask the attorney for their recommendations.
• Ask the attorney how he handles disputes regarding billing and work performance? It is important to know how to change the relationship should it become necessary. How would you access your records if a billing dispute arises? Does the attorney provide a written estimate of the expected charges and fees? Does the attorney provide itemized monthly bills?
• Are the attorney’s offices convenient to you and how is the parking and office access?
A method to keep costs in line is to be organized and to make certain time isn’t wasted during the face to face meetings. Remember, the attorney works for you and the relationship should be based on the counselor client approach.
As with all important decisions make certain you fully understand all aspects of your decision and it is always suggested you seek competent legal and tax advice before making any important decision.