Trusted Lawyer For Estate
Choosing the right lawyer to help you craft your estate plan is an important decision. You should take the time to carefully vet attorneys before hiring one.
Look for specialized skillsets. Some attorneys may focus on maximizing benefits programs like Medicaid, while others might specialize in long-term care planning.
Do Your Research
Whether you’re looking for a trusted lawyer for estate planning matters, personal injury case or family law matter, it’s important that you take the time to do your research. It’s a big decision and you’ll be dealing with an attorney for potentially the rest of your life, so you should not choose the first one you come across without doing some comparison shopping.
You can start by asking for recommendations from trusted friends and family members. Also, reach out to other financial professionals you work with, such as accountants and insurance agents. They may be able to recommend attorneys that they’ve worked with.
Another important consideration is how long the lawyer has been practicing. You want to make sure that they have the experience needed to understand and accurately draft your documents. Plus, they will need to be current on the changing laws pertaining to estate planning in your state(s).
When you meet with an estate planning attorney, ask for references from previous clients. Ask if the attorney was helpful and responsive to their needs, and how the experience went.
You also want to consider whether the attorney has any specific areas of expertise that can help you. For example, you may have special concerns regarding maximizing benefits programs or addressing long-term care issues that require the assistance of an elder law specialist. Or, you may have financial interests overseas that require the services of an international estate planning attorney.
Also, inquire about the attorney’s memberships in professional organizations and other sources of education and networking. This will be an important indication of their level of commitment to staying current on developments in trusts and estates law and planning techniques. Ask about hourly rates and flat fees, including whether the attorney includes any special research tasks in a package fee or charges those separately. Many attorneys offer a free, brief consultation and will outline their compensation models at that time.
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Estate planning can be very complex, requiring individuals to contemplate fiscal matters both while they are living and after their death. Moreover, it is fertile ground for costly mistakes that could undermine an individual’s intent and dramatically diminish the financial legacy he or she leaves behind.
In addition to finding out about an attorney’s experience and evaluating his or her reputation, find out about the firm’s fee structure. Some firms have a flat fee package that includes certain services such as will drafting and others are charged on a per-hour basis.
Find out whether an attorney will respond to your questions within a reasonable time period. A timely response shows a level of responsibility and indicates that the lawyer is serious about handling your case. It also demonstrates that the attorney is knowledgeable about the most current laws and planning techniques. In addition, many attorneys belong to organizations such as WealthCounsel and are committed to staying abreast of the most recent developments in the field.
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Whether you are creating a last will and testament, a trust, or something else entirely, you need to ensure that your plan is comprehensive. Failing to name long and short-term guardians for children, making mistakes with beneficiary designations on tax-deferred assets, or naming the wrong person as healthcare power of attorney could create significant problems for your loved ones after you pass away or become incapacitated.
The best way to avoid these issues is to make sure that your estate planning attorney is experienced and has extensive knowledge of a wide range of issues. A trustworthy lawyer should be able to answer your questions promptly and thoroughly, and will work with you to make sure that everything is in order before proceeding.
You should check in with your trusted lawyer every three to five years to see if there are any changes to state or federal law that could impact your situation. Doing so may also help you save on taxes, which means that your family will get more of what you leave them.