During your consultation, pay attention to how the attorney makes you feel and whether they seem like someone you would be able to work with long-term.
Estate planning is the sensible thing to do, both for your sake and that of your potential heirs. While it might feel morbid to think about your death, you don’t want your money, properties, and other assets to fall into the wrong hands — just like you wouldn’t like your family (or other potential beneficiaries) to go through complex and stressful legal proceedings or face financial and emotional problems.
Consequently, it’s vital to prepare a will and find a reliable and trustworthy planning attorney. Such a professional will help you avoid some commonly made mistakes and ensure your will keeps updating along with the changes in your financial, professional, and personal situation.
But how can you make sure you work with a suitable attorney? Here are some tips that may bring your closer to finding one:
Look for an Attorney Specializing in Estate Planning
The first step is to seek an attorney who specializes in estate planning. Not all lawyers have the same focus, and estate planning attorneys have the specific experience and knowledge you need to help you create a comprehensive estate plan that will prevent complications down the road.
They are familiar with all the ways to maximize the value of the estate and reduce taxes, but they also know a lot about financial options at your disposal, such as inheritance advance, in case you are not happy with how long does probate take. With their help, you will find it much easier to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and arrange suitable management of your estate after death.
You can start your search by asking for referrals from friends, family, or other professionals who have recently gone through the estate planning process themselves. Once you have a few names, you can check them out online or set up consultations to get a better sense of who they are and whether they would be a good fit for you.
Inquire About Their Experience
When you’re meeting with a potential estate planning attorney, be sure to ask about their experience. Besides finding out how long they have been practicing law, you should also ask about how many estate plans they have created and how familiar they are with the laws in your state.
The more experience an attorney has, the better equipped they will be to anticipate potential problems and help you find the right solutions for your unique situation. However, you should also make sure they are up-to-date on the latest changes in estate planning law so they can provide you with the most accurate information.
Ask About Their Process
Asking about an attorney’s process is another vital step in choosing the right professional for your needs. Find out how they typically work with clients and what kind of information they will need from you to create an estate plan.
The process can vary depending on the complexity of your assets and the goal you have in mind for your estate. Still, a trustworthy attorney should be able to walk you through the steps and help you understand what to expect. This way, you can be sure you are on the same page from the start and that you are comfortable with the way they work.
Get a Sense of Their Personality
In addition to finding an attorney with the right experience and knowledge, you should also try to find someone you feel comfortable working with. Estate planning can be a sensitive topic, so it’s crucial to find an attorney you feel you can trust.
During your consultation, pay attention to how the attorney makes you feel and whether they seem like someone you would be able to work with long-term. If you don’t feel comfortable with them or they seem like they aren’t interested in getting to know you, it’s probably not the right match.
Find Out How They Charge
One of the common missteps during estate planning attorney search is not inquiring about how the attorney charges for their services. Nevertheless, it is a critical step, as it allows you to determine how costly your estate planning process will be.
Many estate planning attorneys charge by the hour, while others may charge a flat fee or a percentage of the total value of your assets. Get a clear understanding of their fees before you commit to working with them, so there are no surprises down the road. Also, ask about any other potential costs, such as fees for filing documents or setting up trusts.
Check if the Attorney Offers Malpractice Insurance
It’s also a good idea to ask if the attorney has malpractice insurance. This type of insurance protects both the attorney and the client in the event that something goes wrong during the estate planning process.
While most attorneys are careful and diligent in their work, mistakes can still happen. If an error is made in your estate plan, it could have severe repercussions for you and your family. If the attorney has malpractice insurance, it will cover any damages you may incur due to the mistake.
Not all attorneys carry malpractice insurance, so this is something you will need to ask about upfront. If the attorney does not have insurance, you may want to consider working with someone else.
Ask if the Attorney Belongs to a Professional Organization
Another issue to discuss is whether the attorney belongs to any professional organizations. There are many different organizations for attorneys, and some of them offer malpractice insurance or other benefits.
Being a member of a professional organization can also be an excellent way to find out more about an attorney. You can usually get referrals from other members, and you can be sure the attorney meets your standards.
Some of the most popular professional organizations for attorneys include the American Bar Association, the American Arbitration Association, and the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.
The Bottom Line
Creating an estate plan is essential to ensure your wishes are carried out after you die. The process can be complex, but working with the right estate planning attorney can make it much more manageable.
No matter how you end up finding your estate planning attorney, the most important thing is that you take the time to find someone who is a good fit for you and your needs. By following the tips mentioned in this article, you can be sure you are making the best decision for your future. Use these tips to choose an attorney who has the experience, knowledge, and personality you need to create a comprehensive estate plan that meets your unique needs.