How to Find an Estate or Trust Attorney
When searching for an attorney to help with your estate or trust, resources worth consulting include the phone book and the Martindale-Hubbell database, which lists most lawyers in the United States. Your local, county, or state bar association is also a good place to start. Personal references and referrals from other professionals can also provide invaluable leads in the search for a good estate attorney.
You may want to consider hiring an attorney to either shepherd the estate or trust administration process from beginning to end or to help you with only certain aspects of administration. Whatever the extent of the work you want an attorney to perform, finding one you can work with for a reasonable fee isn’t impossible. Know the scope of work you want the attorney to undertake.
Do some investigative work to uncover a lawyer that’s a good match for you. Check out the following resources when searching for an attorney:
Phone directory: Your first thought may be to rush to your phone directory and start flipping through the listings. Chances are good you’ll see pages and pages of attorneys listed. You’ll probably notice multiple display ads touting this or that firm’s expertise with various types of law.
Don’t necessarily ignore the phone book when searching for an attorney, but don’t rely on this information entirely. No one is checking the validity of the claims being made in the phone book or other forms of advertising.
Martindale-Hubbell: This database lists most lawyers in the United States. You can find attorneys all over the country by using their free Web site. You can search for attorneys and law firms by practice type (the practice type you want is either Trusts and Estates or Wills and Probate) and location. You can also view peer rankings of attorneys in the database.
Local, county, and state bar associations: Bar associations all have lawyer referral services, which match you with an attorney in your area. Referrals are free and made on a rotating basis. Your first half-hour appointment with the attorney is typically billed at a substantially reduced rate.
Personal references: Ask people you trust where you work, within your family, or elsewhere if they’ve personally worked with an attorney on estate or trust matters and whether they were satisfied with the service they received.
Referrals from other professionals or within law firms: You may already be working with a tax pro or an investment advisor who can recommend a competent attorney. Or you may be the client of a large firm that practices in many areas of law. Even if the attorney you usually employ doesn’t do trust and estate work, he or she may be able to recommend a lawyer with the required expertise.