Many individuals who are looking for an estate planning attorney look for a personal connection with that attorney, but there are many other characteristics which should be taken into account when choosing an estate planning attorney which suits your needs. Here are some steps we think would be perfect for you to help find the estate planning attorney which would be perfect for you, and furthermore start your estate planning or wealth preservation journey.

1. There are many different types of estate planning attorneys out there, so first you should identify what type of estate planning attorney you need. General estate planning attorneys have the power to legitimize trusts, draft wills, and litigate. However, certain services need specialized attorneys, such as charitable giving, global assets, sophisticated wealth transfer techniques, and elder law, and disability services. Narrowing these kinds of services will help you choose your attorney efficiently. 

2. Next, interviewing each candidate by phone or in person is a good idea to get a better feel for your prospective attorney. Make sure any introductory fees are mentioned before these interviews and “meet and greets”.

3. Addressing certain topics before a formal engagement letter is in place is important before you start asking about specific legal advice. Certain topics include:


  • Who will be your point of contact
  • Attorney’s adequate capacity 
  • Preferred methods of communication
  • Conflicts with your specific matter
  • Attorney’s relevant experience 
  • Billing practices
  • The prospective attorney’s approach 
  • Retirement transitory plans

4. Now you should assess how the interview went. Surprisingly, many people will learn a lot from their prospective attorneys at this point, without gaining any legal advice. You should make sure you are comfortable talking and asking follow-up questions to your estate planning attorney, and if not, it would most likely be in your best interest to interview a new one. 

5. If you felt comfortable with your prospective estate planning attorney, it’s time to move on to the next step of hiring them. Now it is time to minimize surprises about fees. Attorneys generally prepare fee engagement letters which outline their billing practices. Be sure to ask your attorney any questions about their billing process before you actually begin the process. 

Here at McDowall Cotter, we take pride in helping our clients with Estate Planning, and Trust Litigation. Our experience in law along with our commitment and dedication to the welfare of our clients is what makes us such a multifaceted firm. For decades, McDowall Cotter has been a leading law firm in the San Francisco Bay Area, helping blended families and individuals with disabilities with the most individualized care. We are creative in our customer- focused, tailored solutions and work tirelessly on behalf of our clients with utmost care, attention, respect and professionalism. Take a look at our upcoming events to see when and where you can meet some of our lovely attorneys. Contact us today to start your wealth preservation or estate planning journey.