The same goes with Estate Planning, you want to hire an attorney who specializes in this field. You can go to an attorney or a law firm, which practices in multiple areas of law, but if they have the “go to” attorney who handles too many areas of law, then all you are buying are Meijer tires. The attorney is probably a great attorney, but his or her practice is just too vast to give the expertise needed.
They may not know to challenge the calibration of the radar gun when fighting a DUI, or may not ask for everything in a divorce case because they don’t quite know how to squeeze the other side.
A lot of attorneys and law firms do Estate Planning, but the problem is unless they hire a lawyer to specifically head their Estate Planning and Probate section, they will not know all the nuisances that fall within Estate Law. An inexperienced attorney, or one who doesn’t solely practice in the field, may accidently put an IRA or Roth-IRA into a trust without the appropriate language, thus triggering the clause set up by the IRS, which would require the IRA to be drained within five years. Or they may draft a trust for a grandchild without a Crummey clause, which could trigger the GST on the gift. There are so many nuisances that going to a general practitioner or someone who practices too many areas of law is just not doing justice for you and your estate.
How can you tell which attorneys are spread too thin? There are two types, there are the general practitioners, and there are the ones whose areas of practice barely overlap. Both will be able to give good general advice in the areas that they practice, but do not expect expert advice. If you see that someone practices Family Law, Criminal Law, Estate Planning, and Tax, you can see the red flag, since Family Law and Criminal Law rarely overlap. In this scenario, at least there is quite a bit of overlap between Estate Planning and Tax, and a tiny overlap between Family Law and Estate Planning. But these types of lawyers are the ones who are usually limited to good general advice.