Proper estate planning is the best way to protect your assets and ensure your family is well taken care of after you’re gone. Finding an estate planning lawyer who is right for you is critical to make sure your intentions are carried out according to your wishes, but you may not know where to start. Considering the following things before choosing an attorney can help make the estate planning process practically painless and give you and your family peace of mind.
Although reviews on the internet can be a helpful tool when looking for a lawyer, word of mouth is also a reliable way to learn about an attorney’s reputation. Exceptional estate planning and wills and trusts attorneys are often well known in the communities they serve. Ask friends, family, and coworkers if they have used someone they would recommend. When you talk with an attorney, ask for references from their other clients as well.
One of the most important factors to consider is how long an attorney has been practicing in estate law and their specific experience. A good rule of thumb is to choose someone with at least five years of experience. Choose someone who is well-versed in creating vital documents like wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and other important estate planning documents. Having a lawyer who is knowledgeable in all aspects of estate planning is essential, especially if you also need help with complex issues like business succession planning. Considering your specific needs and selecting a lawyer whose experience closely matches them can help you find what you are looking for.
Trust is a bedrock of the attorney-client relationship and estate planning is very personal. Even if an attorney has vast experience in estate planning, if you do not feel comfortable or establish a rapport with them things can go south. It is important to remember that you may be discussing sensitive issues like finances, family conflict, choosing an executor, naming beneficiaries, appointing a guardian for minor children, end-of-life decisions and other important issues. Finding a lawyer with whom you can be open and honest can ensure you are both on the same page.
Depending on an attorney’s experience, reputation, and work style, fees can vary widely. Before signing any contract or retainer agreement, make sure to ask questions about attorney fees and other possible costs that may be incurred. Being surprised by an exorbitant bill is not something you want to deal with after you’re done with estate planning. When interviewing attorneys, it is also a good idea to ask how often you should update your estate plan and how much it will cost.
Choosing the right attorney may seem daunting, but with a little research and effort, you can find someone who has your best interests in mind. If you need help with wills and trusts, estate planning, or business succession planning, our experienced team at Carosella & Associates can get you on the right track and guide you through the process.