There are cases that you should definitely hire an attorney for including creating a proper estate plan (will/trust), family law cases, and most civil litigation cases. The problem is that attorney fees are usually high. The better the quality of the attorney the more the fee is usually. So, the question is when should I hire an attorney? The answer to this question is based on your desired results. For example, in our office we create asset protection estate plans. These estate plans offer protection to your family from the state and federal governments, and protection from creditors (people trying to sue you). If you are interested in creating something like this, an attorney must be used. The reason for this is because of the complexity of the plan. If you simply want a basic estate plan, there may be other options but at least consult with an attorney to ensure you are getting what you think you are getting.
Additionally, if you are involved in a contested divorce case (especially with child custody issues), and attorney needs to be used as well. If you do not have one, the procedural process alone may feel overwhelming and any mistake can have severe consequences. On the other hand, if you and your spouse are on good terms and the divorce case is amicable an attorney is not needed.
Many times a client will say, “Can I start the process myself and hire you later on?” This is especially true in divorce cases. This is never a good idea because if you do not have legal knowledge, the chances of you making a mistake are high. If then down the line you do hire an attorney, that attorney will have to go through your paperwork and correct it. This takes longer than if the attorney did it correctly himself in the first place, and therefore would cost you more money.
If the case is complicated, if the estate plan you want is more sophisticated, an attorney should always be used. In estate planning, the plan must be updated consistently so you will need an attorney who is abreast of new laws and will communicate with you to make necessary adjustments. Yes, fees can be high but the benefits of having competent counsel by your side outweigh the costs. For more information on this or any of our legal services, please call us for a free consultation!