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How to Choose a Good Estate Planning Attorney?
How to Choose a Good Estate Planning Attorney?
How to Choose a Good Estate Planning Attorney?
Estate Plan Lawyer » Resources » How to Choose a Good Estate Planning Attorney?

The process of planning for your decline and death is such a daunting experience that the majority of adults avoid estate planning altogether. About 60% of Americans die intestate without a will, often complicating a sorrowful experience for surviving family. Certainly, if you have children, if your estate is worth more than $12.92 million, if your state of residence has estate taxes, if you are unfamiliar with the legal process, and if you are at risk of infirmity, you need to push through your hesitancy and begin the process of estate planning. 

A good estate planning attorney has a combination of skills to help you through this difficult process: a thorough knowledge of federal and state law, an understanding of complex financial structures, and of course, compassion. Finding the right estate planning attorney requires some thought and research. 

In beginning this process, if you are a resident of the Midwest United States, consider the Estate Planning Law Firm. We have a range of estate planning packages that offer our clients affordable and effective estate planning strategies along with the professionally drawn customized documents needed to implement your goals. 

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Understand the Basics of Estate Planning 

Estate planning is the process of inventorying assets and liabilities, putting together a plan, and drafting and signing the necessary documents needed to implement that plan. The key components of any estate plan might include the following:

  • A will
  • A comprehensive trust plan
  • A medical power of attorney
  • Financial power of attorney
  • Guardianship for your children
  • Advanced healthcare planning

Let’s run through how this process works.

Identifying Your Estate Planning Needs

A first step is understanding your financial situation. Make a list of your assets: 

  • House or condominium
  • Cars, motorcycles, and boats
  • Jewelry
  • Stocks and other investments
  • Bank accounts
  • Furniture, books, household items
  • Artwork
  • Family heirlooms and sentimental possessions
  • Interest in business ownership that is not controlled by a partnership or other agreement

Now make a list of your liabilities:

  • Mortgage
  • Loans
  • Student loans
  • Credit card debt
  • Back taxes
  • Pledges

With this list in hand, you can assess your financial situation to determine what your goals in estate planning might be. Most people want to make sure that their spouses and children are stable and able to continue their lifestyles. This means being able to stay in the family home, continue plans for college and post-secondary school education for your children, and just be secure despite the sorrow of loss. 

Making these assets and liabilities lists allows you to see that there are concrete steps to take to begin to develop your goals and your objectives into a viable estate plan. Creating these lists also reveals any potential challenges and unique circumstances that need the attention of a skilled professional.

Finding an Estate Planning Lawyer Who Works for You 

Finding the right estate planning lawyer requires some time and research and knowing what kind of person you work best with so that the process runs smoothly and without unnecessary stress and delay.

Key Qualities of a Good Estate Planning Attorney

The key to finding a good estate planning attorney is paying attention to two vital qualities: experience in developing estate plans and implementing them and expertise in the area of federal and state wills and trusts law. But you want more. Because of our natural reluctance to deal with these delicate issues, you want to find an estate planning attorney with good communications skills coupled with compassion and understanding. Drafting the relevant documents requires precision and, exactitude, real attention to detail. And like all professionals, any estate planning lawyer should exhibit the highest ethical standards because your lawyer has a fiduciary obligation to you. To work effectively with an estate planning lawyer, the lawyer should foster your trust.

How to Find and Research Potential Attorneys

The best recommendations for estate planning lawyers come from family, friends, and professionals in your life who are satisfied with the quality of work and interaction with an attorney. That’s the first place to start, within your inner circle. You can expand your research to law firm websites, online reviews, and directories of associations, such as the state bar association and local Estate Planning Council in your region. When considering an estate planning lawyer, you want that lawyer to be embedded within the professional community of other estate planning professionals. Being active within this community means that the firm is aware of the current state of the law, how to be creative in planning within the constraints of any law, and the knowledge of options and drafting that comes from experience, not books. 

Conducting Consultations and Interviews

Remember that you are in control. It’s your choice to hire an estate planning attorney. Some lawyers offer free consultations, which will provide you with the opportunity to feel out the lawyer, see if you understand what is said, and that the lawyer elicits information from you so that the plan is comprehensive and matches your assets and goals. Before you interview a candidate, be sure to inventory your assets and liabilities so that you can listen to the attorney’s suggestions within a practical framework.

Here are some questions you might use to frame your interview:

  • How long have you been in practice?
  • What law school did you attend?
  • Is estate planning your primary area of expertise?
  • How can we best communicate: text, email, telephone, or in person?
  • Who is my contact person in your office? 
  • How long will it take for me to get a response to a query?
  • Does your office review my estate plan periodically to determine whether it needs revision, or is that my responsibility?
  • What are your fees and rates? Do you charge hourly or by the project?

By using questions to stimulate conversation, you can better gauge the attorney’s communication skills, personality, and interest in you as a client. Do you understand what the lawyer is saying? Is the lawyer directly answering your questions? Do you feel confident in the lawyer’s knowledge of the law and problem-solving skills? 

Comparing and Evaluating Attorneys

Unless you are convinced by a recommendation that a particular lawyer is right for you, you should interview several to learn more about the estate planning process and which lawyer will work best with you and your situation. It’s perfectly fine to take notes during an initial consultation. You want to weigh the pros and cons of each lawyer, comparing cost, the timetable for completion of the estate plan, accessibility, and how you feel interacting with the lawyer. As with anything, trust your instincts. 

Making the Final Decision and Starting the Estate Planning Process

When you are ready, select the lawyer whose credentials, fees, and completion schedule fits your needs. Working effectively with an estate planning lawyer means establishing a working relationship based on clear communication and trust. Be clear about what you want and how you want to be a part of the decision process. And always know that because laws change, and your financial and personal situation might change, any estate plan requires periodical review and amendment.

Getting It Right

You can take some of the stress and reluctance out of the estate planning process by choosing a lawyer who clicks with you and has the knowledge and skills needed to devise an estate plan and draft all of the necessary documents to put that plan into place. A good professional relationship is based on trust and communication. You want a lawyer who makes you feel comfortable speaking about difficult subjects and who can communicate legal solutions in a clear and direct way. 

You don’t want to be one of the 60% of Americans who die, leaving their family members grieving and unable to manage financially without you. Finding the right estate planning lawyer is worth the effort. 

At Estate Planning Law Firm, we offer three estate planning packages at different prices, ranging from $99-$1099, which are customized to fit the specifics of your circumstances. We formed our law firm to provide affordable estate planning services to all members of our community. Our methodology is simple. 

  • Choose an estate planning package by taking our online quiz
  • Answer a few questions.
  • Leave the hard part to our team of estate planning specialists.

We will customize an estate plan to meet your needs. Take the quiz and contact Estate Planning Law Firm online to begin to plan for the future.

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