An estate plan is more than just a plan to distribute your assets. A great estate plan will ensure that you receive preferred medical care in the future. It can also shield your assets from certain tax consequences, allowing your beneficiaries to receive the maximum inheritance possible. That is why it is important to choose the right attorney for the job. You will want a lawyer who understands the law and how it can benefit you.
Years of experience
Experience matters, especially in a complex practice area such as estate planning. An experienced attorney will know the ins and outs of trusts and their tax implications. They will know probate court well and how you can plan to avoid it whenever possible. You will need a myriad of documents for your estate plan and a knowledgeable attorney will set you up with essential things such as a powers of attorney, wills, trusts and health care documents.
Do they know how to protect your financial goals?
An estate planning attorney should have a number of tools in their pocket to help you protect your financial goals. They should be able to help clients with any of the following documents:
- Life insurance trusts
- Irrevocable living trusts
- Revocable living trusts
Trusts are some of the most powerful instruments available for preserving assets. They should be able to explain your trust options clearly. Most importantly, they should understand what planning tool will benefit your goals best.
When asked, could they give you references from other clients? New lawyers may not have a long list of references but someone who has been in practice for years should have a few. You can also check their reviews online including websites such as Yelp, FindLaw.com and even Facebook. Reading candid reviews can give you a good sense of how they work with clients.
Will they be there when you need them?
Some estate planning attorneys want to draft up your documents and the then relationship ends there. However, your life will change. Your needs might be different in 10 years. A great estate planning attorney will offer services to update your estate plan in the future (for a fee). Would they be willing to meet with you in case of an emergency financial situation?
Can you see yourself working with this lawyer?
Estate planning is personal. Your estate planning lawyer will be working closely with you. Ideally they will offer one-on-one sessions. You need to ask yourself if you are comfortable working closely with this person. Will you be able to tell them your financial goals and medical preferences for the future? Finding a lawyer you can trust is invaluable.