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Resources To Help You Find Help

How do you really know whether the person you've chose is right for the job until after the job has been accomplished? Like wise, how can you really get a handle on whether the cost is worthwhile if you've never done this before?

The first step is to try to narrow down your search by looking for lawyers in the right places. Here are some services you turn to:

  • The American Bar Association offers an online consumer's guide to hiring legal help. the site will help you research whether a person is licensed as a lawyer in your state and if nd out what you can do to deal with a troublesome attorney. It also offers information about free legal services for qualifying individuals. Go to http://abanet.org/legalservices/findlegalhelp/home.cfm for more information.
  • The American College of Trust and Estate Council is a membership association for lawyers who focus on wills, trusts, and estate planning. As such, it can provide a list6 of member lawyers, known as fellows of ACTEC, by state. More than twenty-three hundred ACTEC fellows are currently listed on the group's Web site, including telephone and e-mail. Go to http://www.actec.org/public/roster/search.asp for more information.
  • The National Association of Estate Planners & Councils is another membership organization for professional estate planners. It also provides a list of its accredited estate planners. Go to http://www. naepc.org/ for more information.
  • AARP, the association for people over fifty, can also help you find a lawyer. One potential benefit of the AARP service is that it has negotiated lower prices for members who consult participating attorneys. Go to http://www.aarp.org/families/legal_issues/ for more information.

Even estate planning specialists may have their own specialties within the field of estate planning. Sounds weird, right? In fact, it happens all the time. One lawyer may focus primarily on wills, living trusts, and probate proceedings, while another lawyer may focus on planning for elderly people who need to coordinate their estate planning with planning for Medicare. Before you choose an estate planning attorney, know his or her specialties. If you're young, you probably want to bypass the so-called elder law attorney and go for someone who writes basic wills and trusts.

Once you have homed in on a number of qualified lawyers in your state and your area of need, you want to either talk with theses lawyers on the phone or set up an appointment to meet with them face-to-face. The point of this exercise is to get a sense of whether they will help you and what kind of fees they charge. You also want to get a sense of your rapport with them. If you don't like the way a particular attorney treats you, don't work with that person. Find someone else.

An excerpt from the book, What Your Lawyer May Not Tell You about Your Family's Will by Kaja Whitehouse

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