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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Finding the right wills lawyer for you

I've suggested many times on this blog that the lawyer who helps you draw up your will should be a specialist in wills and estates. I know though, that to most people a lawyer is a lawyer is a lawyer. Most people don't realize that lawyers specialize just as doctors do.

I also know that there are lawyers out there who will make wills for people from time to time, but who really shouldn't because they don't know the area of law well enough to do a good job for the client. I'm sorry to say anything negative about other members of my own profession, but I've seen the documents myself.

So as a consumer, how do you protect yourself by finding the right person for the job?

A good way to find a wills lawyer is to ask someone you know who has just had their own wills done. There is no point asking someone for the name of the lawyer who did their divorce, incorporated their company or defended their kid's drunk driving charges. They might think the lawyer is a great guy or a nice person but that's not the question you need answered, is it?

Another good way is to keep an eye out for local lawyers who give seminars about wills, or whose articles appear in a newspaper or magazine. I've had dozens of people tell me that they called me because they liked how I sounded in the seminar. It takes a bit of the intimidation out of the process if you've already met the lawyer.

The Canadian Bar Association in almost every province and territory in Canada maintains a lawyer referral list and can help find someone in your area.

Assuming you have someone in mind, what should you ask the lawyer before hiring him or her? I don't suggest that you ask "do you make wills?" A much MUCH better idea is to ask "what kind of law do you do?" If the first or second thing on the list is wills, you're probably ok. You could also ask "how much of your practice is wills and estates?" The idea is not to get stuck with the person who does only one or two wills a year and has no real expertise.

Not everyone lives in a big city with a smorgasbord of lawyers available. If you live in a smaller centre and are not comfortable with having your local lawyer handle the matter for any reason, try to find someone in a nearby city. With electronic communication these days, it's possible that you may only have to make one trip to see the lawyer.

One other thing I'd like to add is that if you don't think the advice your lawyer gives you, consider getting a second opinion, just as you would with a medical question.


  1. Nice suggestions to find a good will lawyer.

  2. Nice suggestion.Your lawyer should be specialist in his profession.


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