Greetings reader - this is a post from Matthew Linde. This is a subject near and dear to my heart. Let's say that you have a close relative die and it looks like there is going to be a fight over their probate or trust matter. You need an attorney. So you go on Google and start looking around. Wow I feel your pain. There are so many ads how do you determine if someone is actually qualified.
I have been litigating probate and trust matters for over 25 years and I know most of the local attorneys. Thus, I know who is attempting to get your business, but is not qualified to act. I have had many clients com to me after their problem is critical only to have me tell them that there are things they could have done, but its too late now. If I was hiring an attorney where is what I would ask:
1. How many trust and probate litigated matters have you specifically handled ? I have litigated, not to trial, but litigated over 400 cases. However, I see many attorneys who advertise that they provide litigation trust and estate services and have litigated only a handful of cases in their life. That means the attorney is on a steep learning curve and you don't want them to learn while making mistakes on your case.
2. How many cases have you taken to trial in front of a judge or jury? I have litigated close to 20 different cases before a judge and jury. All the cases are probate and trust cases or deal with the incapacity of someone signing documents. About 1 out of every 20 of my cases go to trial. Again, you don't want someone to go to trial if they have tried one or two cases because that person will be learning and making mistakes on your case.
3. Have you done anything in your career that distinguishes you as a learned member of your subject area? I am board certified by the Florida Bar as an expert in wills, trusts and estates matters and also certified by the Florida bar as an expert in elder law. There are only about 12 people in the state of Florida with that classification. Many attorneys claim they know something about this area of law with minimal experience.
4. Have you ever litigated a matter before the court of appeals in Florida? If this a bigger issue than one would think because if an attorney has never litigated before the court of appeals, then that attorney will probably not understand the types of mistakes that a trial court judge can make that needs to be preserved. I have been to the court of appeals about 20 different times and have several positive written decisions for my clients.
5. Why do you practice in this area? I practice in this area because of what happened to my dad over 25 years ago. Basically, my dad was a victim of undue influence. That gives me a passion to obtain justice. This is not just another case with me as I have been there. For more information call me at 239.939.7100