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How to Choose the Right Lawyer to Handle Your Loved One’s Estate

The death of a loved one presents many daunting challenges, including negotiating a potential minefield of legal decisions and activities. In these frightening economic times, you will be tempted to avoid lawyers and either handle the legal matters yourself or ignore them completely. Please don't, because you don't know what you don't know. Have a least one consultation with a lawyer to find out what, if anything, needs to be done about your loved one's estate. The time and money will be well spent. You may be relieved to learn that very little needs to be done; on the other hand, you may be dismayed to learn that things are a mess and will take time and money to clean up.

To get started, I suggest that you acquire a copy of the booklet, "What Do You Do Now?" published by LIMRA, which will help you navigate through the legal, financial, and emotional issues presented by the death of your loved one. Contact LIMRA at or 800-235-4672 to purchase a copy.

I was only twenty-seven years old and clueless about the legal profession when my first husband, David Phillips, died (I began law school eleven months after David died). I had only two previous experiences with lawyers, the last one of which was with the lawyer who had written David's will the previous year. Thus, I had at least a name to call to get me started with settling David's estate.

Steps in identifying a lawyer who is competent to handle the estate of your loved one.

Once you have decided upon the lawyer with whom you want to work, consider the following:

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Boomers Resource Guide is a special supplement to the Senior Citizen's Guide