- Don’t limit your search to a specific location
First and foremost, while your attorney should be licensed in your province, you should not limit your search there. In your location, there may only be a few estate planning attorneys. Don’t be concerned about geography when looking for the best attorney in your area for your family. Our firm represents clients all around Ottawa and surrounding areas. A trusts and estates law company may also have a satellite location in your area where you can meet with a knowledgeable attorney right for you.
- Obtain a referral from a lawyer or other professional advisor
Get a recommendation from a friend or family member who is an attorney, financial advisor or CPA. They are likely to know an experienced estate planning attorney who focuses on this area of the law.
- Internet directories should be avoided
Be wary of internet “directories” that promise to connect you with a skilled attorney. Almost every day, we get calls from companies offering to list us in their directories for a charge. The majority of these “specialized directories” are sketchy because they are nothing more than an online yellow pages ad. If you’re looking for an attorney online, look for sites that a third party has vetted.
- Is the attorney primarily concerned with estate planning?
Many lawyers claim to provide estate planning services. Of course, there are a lot of people who do. However, the key question is, “Do they practice exclusively in this field of law?” The advantage here is that the attorney will be far more likely to be up-to-date on current law and concerns in the estate practice realm. They are also more likely to correctly identify areas that may become problematic in the future, if proper planning is not implemented.
- Be wary of referral hotlines run by bar associations
Understand that these referral systems require lawyers to sign up and pay a fee to be included in specific specializations. Their names appear regularly. Also, keep in mind that the bar association isn’t deciding who is a good lawyer and who isn’t, and they’re merely linking a good-standing bar member with a potential client.
- Is the lawyer an author in the field of estate planning?
Before you step in the door, ask each attorney if they have a book, published articles or a website with pertinent content they have written, so you can learn more about their qualifications and expertise.