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How to Become an Estate Planning Attorney

— March 1, 2024

If you have a passion for law, a knack for problem-solving, and a desire to help families secure their legacies, then estate planning law may be the right career path for you.

Estate planning involves the creation and maintenance of legal documents that lay out how a person’s assets will be distributed after their demise. Estate planning attorneys are lawyers who assist individuals and families in creating and executing such documents. As an estate planning attorney, you would be responsible for guiding clients through complex legal procedures and helping them make crucial decisions that will impact their legacy for years to come. If you are interested in pursuing a career in estate planning law, read on to learn everything you need to know to become an estate planning attorney.

Understand the Role of an Estate Planning Attorney

The first step in becoming an estate planning attorney is to understand the duties and responsibilities of the position. Estate planning attorneys work with clients to create wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and other legal documents that ensure their assets are distributed according to their wishes. They also help clients navigate probate, resolve disputes between heirs, and minimize estate taxes. Estate planning attorneys should be well-versed in a variety of laws and regulations, including property law, tax law, and contract law.

Get a Solid Education

To become an estate planning attorney, you first need to obtain an undergraduate degree. While there is no specific major required for law school, courses in business, finance, and accounting can be particularly helpful in this field. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, you will need to pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and apply to law school. Once in law school, you will study various legal disciplines, such as property law, contracts law, and constitutional law. You may also consider taking courses in estate planning or elder law to gain more specialized knowledge.

Gain Experience

After graduating from law school, you will need to obtain a license to practice law in your state. This usually involves taking the state’s bar exam. Once licensed, many new attorneys start by working for a law firm that specializes in estate planning. This allows them to gain experience creating wills, trusts, and other legal documents. As they gain more experience and build their client base, some estate planning attorneys strike out on their own and start their own law firms.

Build a Network

Networking is crucial to success in any field, and estate planning law is no exception. Join local bar associations, attend legal conferences, and reach out to other estate planning attorneys in your area. You may also consider volunteering your time for a local elder law clinic or other pro bono legal services. Building a strong network not only helps you find new clients but also can provide valuable career opportunities, such as partnerships or referrals.

Continue Learning

Lawyers talking; image by August de Richelieu, via
Lawyers talking; image by August de Richelieu, via

Estate planning law is a constantly evolving field that requires attorneys to stay up-to-date on the latest legal changes and innovations. Consider taking continuing education courses, attending legal seminars, and joining estate planning associations to stay informed and build your skills.

Becoming an estate planning attorney requires a solid education, practical experience, and a desire to help clients navigate important legal matters. If you have a passion for law, a knack for problem-solving, and a desire to help families secure their legacies, then estate planning law may be the right career path for you. By following the steps outlined above, you can build a successful career as an estate planning attorney and make a meaningful impact on the lives of your clients.

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