Before Contacting a New Attorney.

  • Review the attorney's website.  See how many of the questions below are answered.
  • Ask around.  Other lawyers and friends can be a good source of information.
  • Check the attorney's disciplinary history at the New York State Unified Court System site. 
  • Do a google search under the attorney's name. Please be careful of reviews, ratings and rankings as some are engineered; you can pay attention to other comments, but remember that disgruntled people post more often than satisfied ones.
  • Consider that attorneys that provide "free" seminars are often doing so to create a large volume of business.
  • Also consider that attorneys that advertise heavily obtain funds for promoting themselves from clients' fees.

A Few Questions You May Wish To Ask Before Interviewing a New Attorney in Person.

  • Do you provide a free consultation?
  • If not, how much will you charge?
  • How long will the consultation last?
  • How long have you been practicing Estate Law?
  • How much of your time is spent practicing Estate Law? What other areas do you practice in?
  • What should I bring to the first meeting?

Questions You May Wish To Ask During the Interview.

  • How many Estate clients do you currently have?  Do you have time to accept more?
  • How many estates have you administered?
  • How do you charge?  On an hourly or fixed fee basis?  If hourly, what is your rate?
  • Do you delegate your work to others? If so, explain what is delegated and when, and how much is charged.
  • Will I always be meeting with you if I become your client?
  • If you charge hourly, describe the types of entries I might see on my bill.  Do you have a minimum time entry?
  • Do you charge for disbursements such as postage, fax and so on?
  • Do you write an engagement letter for me to sign before beginning work?
  • Will your engagement letter state what the expected fee will be?
  • Do you require a retainer before beginning work?  If so, how much?
  • Do you have any close relationships with banks, brokerage houses or insurance agents that you recommend often?  Who are they?  Why are they recommended?
  • Are you able to prepare estate tax returns and fiduciary income tax returns for Estates?  If not, what accountant(s) do you use?
  • Do you keep hard files or electronic files or both?
  • Where do you store clients' executed Estate planning documents?