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Old 02-20-2018, 09:07 PM   #21
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Hi, I didn't mean to be confusing. A JD, is just a juris doctor - a law degree. LLM is a masters in law, usually require a year of intense study, often with a specialty. Some lawyers are also CPAs. But a CPA is not going to draft a will or represent your estate in Surrogate's Court. My concern is that you are purchasing services that you just don't need.
It's okay Marie, I was already confused before, lol! You say I'm "purchasing services I don't need" but even if I used the simple Wills, etc. at a store like Staples, I still need to hire an executor and a health care proxy, (power of attorney?) AND successors for them as well as for the other documents, etc.

On the other hand, if I'm giving away the money...it will serve me as a punishment for being such a dummy! lol!

Thanks a lot Marie and I thank most sincerely all the other wonderful people who came to my rescue too...

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P.S. Texas Proud: How nice that you're good to your mom! This is almost always a sign of a decent soul. As to detecting competency in my new attorney...I'm afraid I'll know it ONLY after the fact.
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Old 02-20-2018, 09:28 PM   #22
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There are a couple things here.

First, board certified is an important first criteria as it shows an attorney who is focused on the area of law. It's not the exclusive criteria I would use though. I like someone with 10+ years experience and a dedicated focus on estate planning. I think your choice is probably fine.

Second, the person who will be successor trustee of your trust does not have to be a lawyer. As I previously mentioned I don't love lawyers for the job since they charge by the hour and charge much more than professional fiduciaries (who are typically not lawyers). However, as we discussed they don't seem to have professional fiduciaries in NY so using a lawyer is a fine choice.

Lastly, if you do ever want to switch an attorney the key is to tell them right away so that they stop doing billable work on your file. Most attorneys, except for the bottom tier, will be happy to refund some or all of the deposit paid depending on how much time they have spent on your case.
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Old 02-21-2018, 07:03 PM   #23
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As an attorney, I would want to know your concerns. I assume you signed an hourly contract? Contact the attorney and simply ask them about their credentials and share your concerns. The attorney may not WANT YOU AS A A CLIENT anymore. Depending on the contract they will usually refund the balance of your retainer. Best of luck.
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Old 02-21-2018, 07:24 PM   #24
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For the executor you could choose a relative you trust alternativly to the lawyer, or indeed most bank trust departments do this as well as act as trustees for trusts. The executor then hires a lawyer do to the legal part of the work. I acted as executor in Tx for both my parents estates.
BTW for medical power of attorney is anyone in your family a medical person, that would be better than an attorney?
The issue of a family member as executor depends on trust but I would suggest a bank trust department over a named lawyer as the trust department is immortal.
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Old 02-22-2018, 04:31 AM   #25
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It appears that very few US lawyers are board certified.

https://www.americanbar.org/content/...thcheckdam.pdf
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Old 02-22-2018, 08:45 AM   #26
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Speaking from experience, their paralegal is going to do it all anyway.
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Old 02-22-2018, 03:18 PM   #27
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There are a couple things here.

First, board certified is an important first criteria as it shows an attorney who is focused on the area of law. It's not the exclusive criteria I would use though. I like someone with 10+ years experience and a dedicated focus on estate planning. I think your choice is probably fine.

Second, the person who will be successor trustee of your trust does not have to be a lawyer. As I previously mentioned I don't love lawyers for the job since they charge by the hour and charge much more than professional fiduciaries (who are typically not lawyers). However, as we discussed they don't seem to have professional fiduciaries in NY so using a lawyer is a fine choice.

Lastly, if you do ever want to switch an attorney the key is to tell them right away so that they stop doing billable work on your file. Most attorneys, except for the bottom tier, will be happy to refund some or all of the deposit paid depending on how much time they have spent on your case.
Hi CaliKid, yes, I'm sorry I became too tired of searching and craved to find someone already and stop this race (that's how mistakes are made)...but my estate is small and simple so probably no harm done. I'd hate to go back to the torture chamber if I need to search again.

As to a successor trustee, this atty will name her lawyer husband. She charged me a flat fee for the entire work, so if it takes more then she miscalculated her profit lol! Thank you for additional guidance.....
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Old 02-22-2018, 03:27 PM   #28
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As an attorney, I would want to know your concerns. I assume you signed an hourly contract? Contact the attorney and simply ask them about their credentials and share your concerns. The attorney may not WANT YOU AS A A CLIENT anymore. Depending on the contract they will usually refund the balance of your retainer. Best of luck.
Thank you prose, she billed me a flat fee for entire work. I've seen her credentials in various internet sites. I thought at first to ask her about not being board certified then decided I'll just see how things go. She seems pleasant and interested in the work...so far. I do wish that she not want me as a client so I do find a board certified, etc. but, it's okay. Are you an attorney?
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Old 02-22-2018, 03:32 PM   #29
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For the executor you could choose a relative you trust alternativly to the lawyer, or indeed most bank trust departments do this as well as act as trustees for trusts. The executor then hires a lawyer do to the legal part of the work. I acted as executor in Tx for both my parents estates.
BTW for medical power of attorney is anyone in your family a medical person, that would be better than an attorney?
The issue of a family member as executor depends on trust but I would suggest a bank trust department over a named lawyer as the trust department is immortal.
Hello meierlde and thank you. A relative would be the logical choice but...I have no longer family and most of my well known friends some aren't longer in this world and some moved out of the country. So I just rely on a stranger. I found banks didn't find my estate appetizing. Anyway by now the deed is done with a new attorney so I'll just go full steam ahead and what will be will be.... lol!
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Old 02-22-2018, 03:34 PM   #30
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Speaking from experience, their paralegal is going to do it all anyway.
Oh that's right! But I don't think this attorney has a paralegal. lol!
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Old 02-22-2018, 03:40 PM   #31
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It appears that very few US lawyers are board certified.

https://www.americanbar.org/content/...thcheckdam.pdf
Oh thanks for the very interesting article! It's so true, and one is so accustomed to seeing physicians being board certified that even when we fail to check them up, chances are they ARE board certified while the opposite appears to happen with lawyers.
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Old 02-22-2018, 08:16 PM   #32
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[QUOTE=Rosedala;2015544]It's okay Marie, I was already confused before, lol! You say I'm "purchasing services I don't need" but even if I used the simple Wills, etc. at a store like Staples, I still need to hire an executor and a health care proxy, (power of attorney?) AND successors for them as well as for the other documents, etc.

Oh, Rosedala, no I would not expect you to get a will from Staples! But I see your attorney charged you a flat fee, so my point, in any event, is probably moot.
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Old 02-22-2018, 08:29 PM   #33
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It appears that very few US lawyers are board certified.

https://www.americanbar.org/content/...thcheckdam.pdf
Very interesting publication. Thank you.


Page 8 of the article lists those states (as of the date of the publication) which have programs for certification. (See, the article directly for the correct wording, I could not cut and paste). At least as of 2011 NY was not one of them.

I actually don't recall ever meeting an attorney in NYC who advised that he/she was "board certified" or handed me a card with that particular distinction. I have seen plenty of lawyers in the Super Lawyer magazine, however.
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Old 02-22-2018, 08:46 PM   #34
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[QUOTE=MarieIG;2016334]
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It's okay Marie, I was already confused before, lol! You say I'm "purchasing services I don't need" but even if I used the simple Wills, etc. at a store like Staples, I still need to hire an executor and a health care proxy, (power of attorney?) AND successors for them as well as for the other documents, etc.

Oh, Rosedala, no I would not expect you to get a will from Staples! But I see your attorney charged you a flat fee, so my point, in any event, is probably moot.
Yes, I'm afraid it's moot for me too until time can tell...I made a mistake and must pay for it, there's no other way.

P.S. Thanks for the beautiful flowers! :-)
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Old 02-23-2018, 10:05 PM   #35
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Yes. I am an attorney in Illinois. We aren’t “board certified” here. Most attorneys aren’t. Again. I would simply raise any questions and concerns with the attorney. Give her a chance to answer. Then make a decision based on those answers. She sounds reasonable.
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Old 02-24-2018, 07:22 AM   #36
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Yes. I am an attorney in Illinois. We aren’t “board certified” here. Most attorneys aren’t. Again. I would simply raise any questions and concerns with the attorney. Give her a chance to answer. Then make a decision based on those answers. She sounds reasonable.
Thank you, I can see where it isn't THAT important to be board certified, but I'll try to let my new attorney know I'm a little concerned. Thanks again!
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Old 02-24-2018, 07:45 AM   #37
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Thank you, I can see where it isn't THAT important to be board certified, but I'll try to let my new attorney know I'm a little concerned. Thanks again!
You are concerned because your attorney is not one of only 5% who bother getting board certified. It has been demonstrated that the qualification you seek is not commonly pursued in the legal profession. Your attorney is qualified and in all probability, perfectly competent to do the job you have hired her to do. If being board certified is your criterion for trusting your attorney, perhaps you should look for a board certified one. It appears they will be hard to find, but good luck.
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Old 02-24-2018, 10:19 AM   #38
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Our first estate planning adventure was with a board certified estate planning attorney. What a nightmare she was. We recently revised our estate plan and the attorney was not board certified, but was part of a larger firm with a great deal of experience. The attorney herself had about ten years of about half estate planning work. She was wonderful, explained things clearly, listened to us, offered suggestions, and completed the work in a timely manner. We’re very happy!
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Old 02-24-2018, 10:43 AM   #39
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You are concerned because your attorney is not one of only 5% who bother getting board certified. It has been demonstrated that the qualification you seek is not commonly pursued in the legal profession. Your attorney is qualified and in all probability, perfectly competent to do the job you have hired her to do. If being board certified is your criterion for trusting your attorney, perhaps you should look for a board certified one. It appears they will be hard to find, but good luck.
I did a little NY trust and estate work at my last job. (Did not "specialize" in this area, and would certainly, not meet OP's criteria), however have had contact with attorneys who either practiced exclusively in this area, or who represented extremely high end clients (i.e. the estates had multiple NYC commercial buildings). I just googled a few of the attorneys that I knew, none had "board certified" in their qualifications.

I went to the website of one of the lawyers that I know specializes in this area. She had a page full of her experience and qualifications, including Super Lawyer (hate that magazine, goes straight in the trash, but in any event) former bar association president (I'm not listing the County) and she teaches in this area at a local law school. I remember (back in the day when I worked in the same office) that she was assigned guardianships to oversee the care of some of the elderly/ incompetent by the Surrogate's Court. Nope, no "board certified."
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Old 02-24-2018, 12:35 PM   #40
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TO: Meadbh, , Dash man, MarieIG:

Meadbh: I understand and realize, thank you, that being board certified is NOT the only necessary qualification...or not THE necessary qualification.

Dash man: Thanks so much for your personal estate experience although my new atty isn't "part of a larger firm with a great deal of experience". Against your atty's half of estate experience...mine has just one fourth...Mea culpa I failed to check her background carefully, but she seems interested in her work.

MarieIG: You couldn't have demonstrated more eloquently that the "board certified" title is an illusion to instill more confidence in prospective clients. Thanks again.

TO ALL: Thanks a lot. I understand now and feel a little more at ease with my new attorney. She's working on my documents in full speed and they'll be properly and thoroughly done soon.
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