The reasons for having an estate plan are many: protecting your surviving spouse, children, other family members when you have passed and preparing for incapacity while you are living. An estate planning attorney may also be instrumental in helping you create a legacy. Therefore, finding the right professional is an important task.
Taking care of a will, power of attorney, health care power of attorney and probably some trusts will limit the potential for family fighting and possible legal battles in the event you become incapacitated, as well as after your death. An estate planning attorney can help you avoid mistakes and missteps and assist you in adjusting your plans, as your individual situation and the laws change.
Next Avenue’s recent article “How to Find a Good Estate Planner” offers a few tips for finding one:
Go with a Specialist. Not every lawyer specializes in estate planning, so look for one whose primary focus is estate and trust law in your area. After you’ve found a few possibilities, ask him or her for references. Speak to those clients to get a feel for what it will be like to work with this attorney, as well as the quality of his or her work.
Ask About Experience. Ask about the attorney’s trusts-and-estates experience. Be sure your attorney can handle your situation, whether it is a complex business estate or a small businesses and family situation. If you have an aging parent, work with an elder law attorney.
Be Clear on Prices. The cost of your estate plan will depend on the complexity of your needs, your location and your attorney’s experience level. When interviewing potential candidates, ask them what they’d charge you and how you’d be charged. Some estate planning attorneys charge a flat fee. If you meet with a flat-fee attorney, ask exactly what the cost includes and ask if it’s based on a set number of visits or just a certain time period. You should also see which documents are covered by the fee and whether the fee includes the cost of any future updates. There are some estate-planning attorneys who charge by the hour.
This isn’t a one-and-done transaction. Understand that your estate planning attorney and their team are people you may be working with for decades. You may also be working with them during some very stressful periods of life, like after the loss of a loved one. Make sure you’re comfortable with the attorney and their team, that they respect you, your family and your values.
Reference: Next Avenue (September 10, 2019) “How to Find a Good Estate Planner”