How Can You Find the Right Lawyer to Make Your Last Will?

Making Wills Easy – New Summer Series 13

Let’s help you find the right lawyer to prepare your will.

In this Summer Series, I explained why you need to invest in a professionally prepared will. In case you missed it, go here.

Sure, you may be afraid of what lawyers charge. That doesn’t mean you don’t need one to make a proper will. Wills are legal documents and subject to legal validation and interpretation.

Remember, Lawyers Are Not All the Same

All lawyers do not have the same training, experience or client skills. You would be making a mistake thinking any lawyer can make your will. Laws change daily. Lawyers must understand tax, estate, property and family laws to prepare wills.

Your will lawyer should ask you questions about your family, finances and health. Consider these questions basic. Lawyers need to be prepared to defend your will if it is contested.

Why Not Hire Lawyers with the Lowest Price?

Lawyers, like contractors and other service providers, compete. This is based on their skills, experience and overhead costs. Sometimes low prices are the only way some contractors (or lawyers) can attract business.

If you only base your hiring decision on one factor such as lowest price, you are usually making a mistake. Lower cost service providers may have lowered their prices only to attract more work. Those with the lowest price may also provide the lowest quality. Be careful. You may never know what is missing from your low-cost will. Your loved ones may pay the price for your save-a-buck efforts.

How Lawyers Charge for Wills

You need to inquire about lawyers’ fees for wills. I usually try to quote a flat rate for will services. Some lawyers quote hourly or base rates. You want to avoid surprises.

If you need lawyers to review shareholders’ agreements, design tax plans, or prepare cohabitation contracts, you can expect additional charges.

Trusting your lawyer is important for your relationship. You are paying for expert advice, not pieces of paper. Funny how some lawyers prepare 20-page wills no one reads or understands. You want a plain-English will.

Lawyers who avoid legal mumbo jumbo can help break through communication barriers that block your understanding. If you do not understand your choices, you cannot make the right decisions. Be prepared to have your lawyer answer your questions.

Where to Find Will Lawyers

1. Referral sources. Friends, financial institutions, professionals, other lawyers and bar associations can provide recommendations. This is your starting point and likely first source. Everyone’s needs are different, though; your brother’s lawyer may not be suitable for your needs.

2. Check out lawyers’ websites. Confirm they have experience with wills. Choose lawyers who spend at least 20% of their time on wills. Local seminars or speaking events give you a chance to meet lawyers.

3. Do your homework. Some websites can be too good to be true. Call lawyers and ask how they work. They can provide you with valuable information, not just fee quotes. This may calm your nervousness dealing with lawyers. Choose lawyers you feel comfortable with.

What to Expect from Your Will Lawyer

• Book your initial will appointment.

Ask the law firm how they can help with your specific needs. You may need help with:

– choosing executors
– planning for disabled persons
– creating trusts for your pets

• How should you prepare for your initial will meeting?

Lawyers may need to review documents like property deeds or marriage and separation agreements. Ask for a checklist of what to bring to your meeting. Bring your list of questions to get more from your investment in legal advice.

• Request draft wills before signing.

Confirm your lawyer will send your draft will before you sign it. Make sure you read and understand what your will means. If you don’t understand, ask.

Need help making a will? Contact me for an appointment.