How people search for Trust and Estate Lawyers – and what you should do instead

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Google is a great help in finding professionals, but sometimes using the wrong search terms can lead you down the garden path. We explain what to do instead.

  1. Location-based searches: These searches specify a location or are looking for nearby services. Examples include “Estate attorneys near me”, “Estate planning attorney near me”, “Probate attorney near me”, “Estate lawyers near me”, “Will attorney near me”, “Will lawyers near me”, “Trust attorney near me”, “Trust lawyers near me”, “Estate planning lawyer near me”, “Lawyers that do wills near me”, “Wills and estate lawyers near me”, “Living trust attorney near me”, “Wills and trusts attorney near me”, “Power of attorney lawyers near me”, “Trust and estate planning attorney near me”, “Lawyer for wills and trusts near me”, “Living trust lawyers near me”, “Wills and probate attorneys near me”, “Best estate planning attorney near me”, “Inheritance lawyers near me”, “Best estate attorney near me”, “Trust and estates attorney near me”, “Special needs trust attorney near me”, and “Best probate attorney near me”.


    When searching for an estate planning attorney, it can be beneficial to be more specific in your search terms, especially with regard to location. For instance, instead of a general search like “estate planning attorney near me”, you could specify “estate planning attorney in San Luis Obispo County” or even more localized like “estate planning attorney in Morro Bay”, “estate planning attorney in Cayucos”, “estate planning attorney in Cambria”, or “estate planning attorney in San Luis Obispo”. This is because the laws and regulations can vary greatly from one locality to another, and an attorney who is familiar with your specific location will be better equipped to handle your estate planning needs. Local attorneys will have a more nuanced understanding of the local courts, judges, and other attorneys, which can be advantageous in dealing with estate planning matters. Moreover, you can also consider reaching out to the San Luis Obispo County Bar Association. They maintain a directory of lawyers in the area and can help you find a lawyer who specializes in estate planning. This combination of online research and utilizing local resources can help you find the right estate planning attorney for your specific situation.

  2. Type of attorney: These searches specify a certain type of attorney or a specific field of law. Examples include “Probate lawyer”, “Probate attorney”, “Estate planning lawyer”, “Will lawyer”, “Will attorney”, “Trust attorney”, “Trust lawyer”, “Estate litigation attorney”, “Trust litigation attorney”, “Living will attorney”, “Estate probate attorney”, “Last will and testament attorney”, and “Last will and testament lawyers”.

    While all the search terms in the provided list fall under the umbrella of “Trusts and Estates”, it’s important to understand that these terms denote different focuses within the field. Some attorneys, such as “Estate litigation attorney” and “Trust litigation attorney”, primarily operate in a court setting and represent clients in litigations, which could involve contesting wills, dealing with disputed trusts, or other forms of legal disputes that occur after someone passes away.
    On the other hand, terms like “Estate planning lawyer”, “Will lawyer”, “Will attorney”, “Trust attorney”, and “Trust lawyer” often represent attorneys who focus more on transactional work. These professionals assist clients in planning their estates and preparing necessary documents like wills, trusts, and power of attorney. Their primary goal is to help clients organize their affairs in a way that reduces the likelihood of future litigation or probate proceedings, thereby providing peace of mind.
    Probate lawyers or attorneys, meanwhile, specialize in the probate process that occurs after an individual’s death, which includes validating the deceased’s will, cataloguing their assets, and distributing those assets to beneficiaries.
    Each of these roles is distinct and serves a specific purpose in the larger field of estate planning and management. Therefore, when seeking legal assistance, it’s crucial to consider the specific needs and circumstances of your situation to ensure you find an attorney who specializes in the area that aligns with your requirements.


  3. Services needed: These searches specify a certain legal document or service that a user needs help with. Examples include “Power of attorney”, “Durable power of attorney”, “Medical power of attorney”, “Financial power of attorney”, “Health care power of attorney”, “General power of attorney”, “Durable power of attorney for health care”, “IRS power of attorney”, “Limited power of attorney”, “Special power of attorney”, “Power of attorney lawyer”, “Power of attorney notary”, “Durable power of attorney for finances”, “Real estate power of attorney”, “Power of attorney for property”, “Temporary power of attorney”, “Power of attorney lawyers near me”, “POA attorney”, and “Living will lawyer”.

    While the search terms under “Services needed” are focused on specific legal documents or services, it’s important to remember that all of these fall within the purview of an estate planning attorney. These professionals handle documents such as “Power of attorney”, “Durable power of attorney”, “Medical power of attorney”, “Financial power of attorney”, and “Health care power of attorney” on a regular basis as part of their work. They are all qualified to assist with these matters, whether it’s setting up a “Durable power of attorney for health care”, dealing with an “IRS power of attorney”, or handling a “Real estate power of attorney”.
    So, rather than narrowing your search to a specific document or service, a more effective approach might be to search for an estate planning attorney in your specific locality. For example, you could use search terms like “Estate planning attorney in Cayucos” or “Estate planning attorney in San Luis Obispo”. This way, you can find a professional who is well-versed in all aspects of estate planning and can provide comprehensive assistance based on your unique needs and circumstances.


  4. Trust related: These searches are specifically related to setting up or dealing with trusts. Examples include “Trust attorney near me”, “Trust lawyer”, “Trust attorney”, “Trust lawyers near me”, “Living trust attorney”, “Trust and estate attorney”, “Trust and estate planning attorney near me”, “Will and trust lawyer”, “Living trust lawyer”, “Living trust attorney near me”, “Living trust lawyers near me”, and “Special needs trust attorney near me”.

    The search terms under the category “Trust related” all point towards legal professionals who specialize in setting up or dealing with trusts. However, it’s crucial to understand that all estate planning attorneys, by virtue of their specialty or focus area, have the necessary knowledge and expertise to set up various types of trusts, including living trusts, also known as revocable inter vivos trusts.

    Setting up a living trust involves creating a vehicle to hold your assets during your lifetime, with the assets then transferred to your beneficiaries upon your death without the need for probate. Moreover, living trusts typically make provisions for your incapacity, i.e.., inability to handle your own affairs. As this is a standard part of estate planning, any qualified estate planning attorney will be able to help with this process.
    Additionally, estate planning attorneys are also adept at setting up irrevocable trusts, which, once established, cannot be changed or terminated without the permission of the beneficiaries. These types of trusts are more complex and may have implications for estate taxes and Medicaid planning, among other things. Due to their complexity, they require a high level of expertise to set up correctly.
    Therefore, rather than searching specifically for a “Trust attorney” or “Living trust attorney”, you might find it more beneficial to search for an “Estate planning attorney” in your area, who will have the knowledge and skills to handle all aspects of trust creation and management, whether revocable or irrevocable.


  5. Will related: These searches are specifically related to setting up or dealing with wills. Examples include “Will lawyer”, “Will attorney”, “Will attorney near me”, “Will lawyers near me”, “Lawyers that do wills near me”, “Lawyers that do wills”, “Last will and testament attorney”, “Last will and testament lawyers”, and “Living will lawyer”.

    The search terms in the “Will related” category are focused on legal professionals who can help with setting up or dealing with wills. However, just like with trusts, all estate planning attorneys are proficient in drafting, reviewing, and managing wills. Wills and trusts are both essential tools in estate planning and often go hand in hand.
    A will is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and the care of any minor children after your death. An estate planning attorney can help you create a will that clearly and effectively communicates your intentions, reducing the chances of future disputes or confusion. They can also help you understand how a will can work together with a trust to create a comprehensive estate plan.
    However, it’s important to note that while wills and trusts often work together, some people may only need or want a will. That’s perfectly okay. Even if you don’t think you need a trust, an estate planning attorney can still provide invaluable assistance in drafting a will that fits your needs.
    Therefore, instead of searching specifically for a “Will lawyer” or “Will attorney”, it could be more beneficial to search for an “Estate planning attorney” in your specific locality. They will have the comprehensive knowledge and skills to help you whether you need assistance with a will, a trust, or both.


  1. Asset protection: These searches relate to protecting assets, often in the context of estate planning. Examples include “Asset protection attorney” and “Asset protection lawyer”.


    The “Asset protection” search terms like “Asset protection attorney” and “Asset protection lawyer” typically refer to legal professionals who specialize in strategies to protect an individual’s assets from potential creditors or legal judgments. This can be a complex field, and it often intersects with estate planning. Many forms of irrevocable trusts, for example, can provide a degree of asset protection by transferring ownership of assets out of your estate and into the trust. However, asset protection can also venture into risky territory. Some providers might suggest strategies that involve moving assets offshore, such as to Caribbean islands, in ways that can skirt legal and ethical boundaries. While some offshore strategies are perfectly legal and ethical, others can be questionable and could potentially lead to legal troubles or loss of assets.
    To avoid these risks, it’s usually a better strategy to look for a local “estate planning attorney” who is familiar with both estate planning and asset protection. Professionals who are part of your local community, especially in smaller areas like Cayucos, Morro Bay, Cambria, and San Luis Obispo, are often better known and more accountable. They are more likely to provide advice that is both effective and within the bounds of the law, and less likely to engage in or recommend questionable practices.
    Remember, protecting your assets is an important part of estate planning, but it should always be done in a way that is legal, ethical, and in your best long-term interests. A local estate planning attorney can be a valuable ally in achieving these goals.

  1. Quality-based searches: These searches are looking for the best or top-rated services. Examples include “Best estate planning attorney near me”, “Best estate attorney near me”, and “Best probate attorney near me”.

    The “Quality-based searches” category includes search terms that focus on finding the highest quality services, such as “Best estate planning attorney near me”, “Best estate attorney near me”, and “Best probate attorney near me”. While these search terms are intended to yield results of the highest rated professionals in your area, it’s important to be aware that the results can be influenced by paid advertisements or partnerships.

    Search engines and commercial entities often promote results from those who pay for the visibility, which can make it difficult to distinguish between genuinely top-rated professionals and those who have simply invested more in advertising. Similarly, commercial rating systems might feature professionals who have paid additional fees to be listed or highlighted.
    Therefore, instead of relying solely on search terms like “best” or “top-rated”, a more reliable approach might be to first identify potential estate planning attorneys in your local area and then investigate their reputation and qualifications further. You can look at their reviews on platforms like Google to get a sense of their reputation among previous clients. Look out for any red flags such as consistent negative feedback or issues related to professionalism, communication, or ethics.
    By using this two-step approach – finding potential attorneys first, then researching their reputation – you’re more likely to find a truly high-quality estate planning attorney that suits your needs. Remember, the “best” attorney for you is one who is not only experienced and knowledgeable, but also aligns with your communication style, understands your specific needs, and is someone you feel comfortable working with.

    See also:
    Trusts – A general overview
    Comparison of California Wills, Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts

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