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Is Hiring a Specialist a Good Idea?

CunninghamLegal – The Living Trust Lawyers

When I was going to law school, I often received calls from family members and friends with legal questions they had ranging from contracts, landlord-tenant issues, divorce, personal injury, workers compensation and the list goes on. I would try my best to help answer someone’s legal question, but I quickly realized that it is impossible for an attorney to know everything about the law. There are millions of pages of state laws, federal laws and even more pages of published court opinions interpreting laws. Just like you would see a cardiologist for a heart problem because they listen to heartbeats all day long, you should hire an attorney to do your estate plan who solely does estate planning.

However, if you are looking for an attorney, how can you be assured that the attorney you are speaking to understands your legal concerns and knows how to help? Any attorney can say they practice a specific field of law, but how can you be assured that they really do? The State Bar of California, the certifying authority for attorneys, developed a “certified specialist” program so that it is easier for you know that you are hiring someone who is an expert in their field. I recently obtained my certified specialist designation in estate planning, trust and probate law, which is no small feat. As the State Bar puts it:

“A Certified Specialist is more than just an attorney who specializes in a particular area of law.  An attorney who is certified by the California State Bar as an Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law Specialist must have:

  • Taken and passed a comprehensive full-day written examination in estate planning, trust, and probate law administered by the State Bar Board of Legal Specialization;
  • Demonstrated a high level of expertise and requisite number of years of experience in estate planning, trust, and probate law;
  • Fulfilled mandated ongoing education requirements in estate planning, trust, and probate law;
  • Been favorably evaluated by other attorneys and judges familiar with his or her estate planning, trust, and probate work.”

Out of 190,000 attorneys in California, only 1000 of them are certified as specialists in estate planning, trust and probate law. That is only 0.5% of attorneys. From the State Bar again – “Whether your situation is simple or complex, consider hiring an attorney who is a ‘Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law’ by the State Bar Board of Legal Specialization – an attorney who is committed to maintaining skill and expertise in estate planning, trust, and probate law through continual attention and continuing education.

Stephen M. Wood is an Attorney in our Camarillo office. For more information about hiring an attorney who specializes in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law, call Stephen at 805-484-2769.