Posted by: The Life and Legacy Planning Group
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 correctly, efficiently, in a timely manner, and at the best possible value. Here are some tips so that you will have the most useful and value-oriented law firm experience.
- Get to know the lawyer and the law firm staff. 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. 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 will be, since paralegals and assistants 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 other organized manner. This will save you the cost of having a paralegal review and organize the information for you—and may even save you a trip to the office or an additional meeting.
- Keep your original documents in a secure place and only provide copies, unless 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 us both about your situation and your thoughts about the advice we’re offering to you. Give the whole story so that the advice you receive and pay for is 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 as protected as possible.
- 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 an issue that was forgotten.
- 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 are 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 is 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.