An estate planning attorney practices law in a specialized field that deals with a person’s estate. In this role, the attorney provides legal advice and guidance in helping clients make sound decisions for maintaining their estates following their death or if they should become incapacitated and unable to make decisions on their own.
Since every family and every estate is unique, it is imperative to hire the right estate planning attorney. In addition to someone who can prepare a legally binding Power of Attorney, create a plan to reduce or even eliminate the estate tax, establish a Living Trust as a means of avoiding probate, and prepare a will, you want an attorney who guarantees that your wishes will be carried out based on current law.
Before choosing just any estate planning attorney to represent you, it is essential to understand what specific things you should look for in not only the person but also the services provided. As an example, you have every right to know about an attorney’s experience. For estate planning, you want to hire an attorney whose primary focus is on this area of law. That does not mean that the attorney cannot serve in other areas, just that he or she has strong expertise specific to estate planning.
In most cases, an estate planning attorney with the most experience will do a better job than others will. Because the more experienced lawyer deals with powers of attorney, trusts, wills, healthcare documents, and more on a daily basis, there is a greater sense of confidence and peace of mind in that attorney’s ability.
Something else to consider is whether an attorney has some type of formal follow-up system. Many estate planning attorneys provide a one-time service. However, for a nominal fee, you can find an attorney who will contact you on a semiannual or annual basis to keep you informed of newly enacted laws. During the conversation, the attorney can also follow up on any changes on your end, provide you with additional information pertaining to estate planning techniques, and answer any questions that you might have.
Money is always a concern when hiring a lawyer. Therefore, look for an estate planning attorney who is experienced, knowledgeable, and highly respected, but also affordable. Typically, estate planning attorneys charge a fixed fee for all applicable services. However, some charge on an hourly rate basis. Prior to contracting with an attorney, you should know how the fee is charged and what the amount will be.
Finally, be sure that you choose an estate planning attorney who shows compassion. You and your attorney will spend a good deal of time together, especially in situations that are more complex. For that reason, you want an attorney you feel comfortable talking to and working with. Your attorney should willingly answer questions and provide clarification whenever needed. Having a good connection with your estate planning attorney will make the overall process a less stressful experience.