When facing legal troubles, it can be a complicated process to find the right attorney. How do you find someone you trust with your circumstances and your finances? Mark Schottler offers tips for hiring the right probate attorney or estate planning attorney for you. 

Understand Your Situation

Before you can even start looking for an attorney, you need to understand the reason behind needing one. What do you need legal advice on? If you’ve found yourself looking to create a last will and testament but are worried about your assets going through probate, meeting with a probate or estate planning attorney could benefit you. Alternatively, have you just lost a loved one and discovered their assets must be passed through probate? Maybe you’re the executor of the will. Understanding your circumstances and what the controlling factor for needing an attorney is, is key so that you can ask the right questions once you meet with an attorney. 

How complicated is your case? Are there certain factors that make your case more complex than the standard probate case? Keep track of any nuances that are important for your future lawyer to know about your case.

On top of understanding why you need an attorney, you need to understand what kind of law your situation falls under. Understanding if you have a probate case or estate planning case will help you reach out to lawyers who can help you and who fit your specific needs. Once you can answer these questions, you can begin your search for a probate attorney or estate planning attorney. 

Finding An Estate Planning Or Probate Attorney

There are several ways to find an attorney in your area. One of the easiest ways is to search your State Bar directory or to search AVVO. 

To find your state bar, simply google your state and “state bar association.” That should bring it up. You’ll then have to navigate the site to find your state’s directory. The Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) directory can be found here. You can either search for a specific lawyer by name or, if you scroll down, you can click on the type of law you’re searching for under “Quick Search.”

Once selecting the type of law you’re in need of, you’ll be directed to a page where you can narrow your search with more detailed specifications. This includes what county or city you’re looking in, pricing and even what language you are searching for. It will then bring up a list of lawyers that match your search criteria. For example, an estate planning and probate attorney in Cook county IL who offers free consultations brings up 32 search results. This is a great way to compile a list of lawyers to reach out to and maybe, even set up initial consultations with. 

AVVO is a national directory of lawyers. You can search by city or state. This is a great resource and offers client reviews of each attorney. If you don’t know where to start in the search for an attorney, this is a great jumping off point to making an informed decision. Some of the specifications you can search for are how many years they have been licensed for, their star rating (we recommend 4 stars and up), and if they offer a free consultation. Mark Schottler’s AVVO profile and rating can be found here. 

Meet With Different Lawyers

With resources like AVVO and the State Bar directory, you have the power to find local attorneys who offer free consultations. This opens up more options for you. Instead of paying extra money to meet with attorneys for the first time, you can really take your time to figure out if an attorney is right for you. Take advantage of these free consultations and get to know several different attorneys. You don’t have to settle for the first one you talk to. Legal help can be expensive, so finding an attorney you trust takes research and time.

There’s a misconception that you have to pay for initial consultations to get the best attorneys. The truth is, some of the top attorneys in your area will offer free consultations. There’s no need to pay unnecessary fees to find one you trust with your case (unless the attorney you have your eye on charges a fee – then, by all means, reach out to them). Mark Schottler offers free 30 minute consultations. If you live in Riverside IL or the Chicagoland area, set up your consultation here. 

A woman meets with a probate attorney for an initial consultation.

Keep Notes

When visiting multiple attorneys, it can be challenging to keep track of who stands out. An easy way to remedy this is to keep notes. When you meet with an attorney, form a list of pros and cons – things you like and dislike about this attorney and their approach. Do you trust them? Are you comfortable around them? After you’ve met with all the attorneys on your list, you can look back and see which ones left the best impression.  

Get References

Finally, don’t be afraid to get references from past clients. You can also ask for references from current clients. This can be the deciding factor in which lawyer you go with. They may look great on paper, but having a few resounding reviews can make a lasting impression when looking for an attorney. Pay attention to what the clients say as it is just as important as all the other research you’ve done. 

Mark Schottler is a Chicagoland attorney with over 20 years of experience working both in probate and estate planning law and in real estate law. He puts his extensive knowledge on these subjects into easily consumable articles that will help and advise the public. Mark Schottler has a passion for probate and uses this to create relevant articles that are informative and entertaining. *While these posts may detail general legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.