Not All Attorneys are Created Equal
You probably aren’t surprised to learn that all attorneys are not created equal, which makes trying to find the right one an important, yet hard, decision.
There are two kinds of lawyers in this country: general purpose and special purpose. If you live in a big city or urban area, you won’t have any trouble finding someone who focuses on estate planning. If you live in a rural setting, it may be tough. Why? Because in a rural setting, attorneys have to provide general services just to make a living.
Some larger states also provide a “certified specialist” certification program. In California for example, I am a certified specialist in estate planning, trust, and probate law. It’s a rigorous process to study for, test, and obtain the designation, and having that certificate hanging on the wall of my office means a great deal.
The State Bar of California developed this “certified specialist” program so that it is easier for you to know that you are hiring someone who is an expert in their field. 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.
In this state, less than half of 1 percent (or one in 200) of lawyers are certified specialists in my chosen area of specialty. For your purposes, it means that the State Bar has given that attorney an extra stamp of approval so that you know you are working with someone who truly knows the intricacies of the law. We at CunninghamLegal are unique in that I am not the only one with this designation; our president Jim Cunningham and lead attorney Ed Goodson are as well, and we have additional attorneys beginning the long and arduous process soon.
As you think about caring for your family for generations to come, consider choosing a firm that will understand all the complex issues and nuances associated with protecting your assets and administering your trust.
Preston A. Marx III, Esq,
Lead Attorney – Trust Administration
Certified Specialist – Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law