Preparing To Meet With an Estates Lawyer

It can be a waste of time for both you and the estates lawyer if you aren't prepared for your first meeting. Being unprepared may also end up costing you money, because it will take longer for the lawyer you hire to get up to speed on your legal matter.

  • The estates lawyer will want to know who you are and how you can be contacted. The lawyer may also want to know whom you represent and whether other persons may be present for the meeting. For example, in many estates matters, a child visits the estates lawyer to seek help for his or her parents or siblings. The estates lawyer will clearly want to understand your relationship, why you are seeking help for the person, and why the person is unable to seek the estates lawyer's help personally. You should be prepared to bring with you any documents that will "prove" your authority, such as a will or living trust document of the deceased that names you as the personal representative.
  • Many times, an estates lawyer will try to speed the information-gathering process by sending you a questionnaire to fill out in advance. If this happens, be sure to follow the lawyer's instructions for completing the questionnaire.
  • You may also be asked to send information to the estates lawyer's office before the meeting. Regardless, make sure you bring it with you for the meeting. Also send along or bring copies of any available documents that may be requested in the questionnaire. For a estates matter, this documentation would typically include:
    • Copies of wills or trusts of the deceased
    • Copies of deeds to all real property involved
    • Copies of life insurance policies
    • Copies of trust agreements in which husband and/or wife are a donor or beneficiary.
    • If the deceased received pension or government benefits you should bring copies of documents relative to the applications.
    • Even if an estates lawyer doesn't ask for documentation beforehand, it's still a good idea to bring a copy of all documents relevant to your situation to the meeting. Spend some time thinking about what you may have on hand. Try to organize the documents in a logical manner before you meet with the lawyer.

    Questions for the First Meeting with an Estates Lawyer

    Prepare a list of questions to take with you to your first meeting. In theory, no question is too silly to ask. Keep in mind, though, that you don't want to scare a lawyer out of representing you. Questions you might ask an estates lawyer for a estates matter, or if you were having wills and powers of attorney prepared, would include:

    • What would the estates lawyer like to see in order to evaluate your situation?
    • How many similar matters has he or she handled?
    • What would the estates lawyer like to see in order to evaluate your situation?
    • What problems does the estates lawyer foresee with your case?
    • How would the lawyer go about handling your situation? What is the process?
    • How long will it take to bring the matter to a conclusion?
    • How would the estates lawyer charge for his or her services?
    • Would the estates lawyer handle the case personally or would it be passed on to some other lawyer in the firm? If other lawyers or staff in the law firm may do some of the work, could you meet them?
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