Choosing the right estate planning attorney is so important. This person is going to know a lot about your life – your family dynamics and your finances. It is not just about the actual documents that are being prepared, it’s about the ability of the attorney to really listen and understand the difficult and complex layers that may be part of your family situation. Even if you think your family is not complex, the issues that may arise upon a disability or death, may increase the tension and stress amongst the family. Below are the top 3 factors in deciding who is the right estate planning attorney for you.
1. Concentrates on Estate Planning – There are many attorneys out there. Some may do divorce and litigation, but they may create a Will or two for their clients. Some concentrate on real estate but will occasionally prepare a Will for their clients. To these types of attorneys, estate planning is more of a side area of practice, not the main concentration. You want someone who has the experience to guide you through many decisions. It’s not just a few things. The attorney should have years of experience seeing similar situations that you are going through, which gives them the experience to prevent future problems and extra expense to your family. You should also choose a person who handles probate and trust administration. You cannot help a family with the planning process if you don’t know what happens on the back end. This unique perspective allows that attorney to prevent problems they see people go through when a loved one dies or becomes disabled.
2. Compassionate and Caring Attorney – We all go through struggles and tragedies with our friends and family. There is nothing worse than going to an attorney after such a tragic event, pouring your heart out, and that person is not actively listening or showing compassion and empathy. It’s already a difficult situation, and your attorney should not make you feel worse than when you first walked into the office. This intangible skill is what you want of all of your professionals, your doctor, your accountant, your therapist, your kindergarten teacher, etc. But “Bedside Manner” was not a class taught in law school. It’s truly something that is part of the soul of a person. It can sometimes be learned, but most times it’s innate. Find someone who naturally cares and is compassionate. This will come into play more often than not when dealing with tragic and challenging events in your family.
3. Excellence in Customer Service – When choosing an attorney, it’s important to know that you can rely on them to respond to you, via phone, email or otherwise. Great attorneys will have a solid staff that will also provide this service when they are busy. They say the biggest complaint against attorneys is not getting a phone call back. This is unacceptable. Your attorney should get back to you in a reasonable timeframe. Customer Service is also about how you are treated when you are in the office. Are you made to feel at home? Are you kept waiting a long time? Do they communicate with you during the estate planning or probate process? It’s important to choose a firm that will provide the customer service you deserve.
Your relationship with your estate law lawyer in Rolling Meadows, IL is not a one-time transaction. You will have a long-standing relationship with this person, and he/she will be there for you through the toughest times of your life. Be very careful in choosing the right estate planning attorney based on the 3 factors above. You and your family will be grateful and appreciative that the person you chose has both the expertise and the heart to handle any and all situations throughout your lifetime.
Thanks to Bott & Associates, LTD. for their insight into estate planning and choosing an attorney.