The responsibilities associated with creating and executing an estate plan can be complicated. An experienced estate planning attorney can help reduce family disputes, save tax dollars and ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death. Estate planning documents include a will, power of attorney and healthcare proxy. An attorney can also help you establish trusts and other mechanisms to manage your assets, protect privacy and control costs.
The first step in choosing an estate planning attorney is to find someone you are comfortable working with. You will be sharing very personal and confidential information and you will need to feel confident that your attorney is trustworthy. It is important to vet potential attorneys, and a good way to do that is to ask for an initial meeting. During this meeting, an attorney will likely want to hear all of your questions and concerns. You should look for an attorney who welcomes your questions, provides answers that you fully understand (not legalese that you can’t translate) and makes you feel at ease.
Once you have met with potential estate planning attorneys, compare their fees to determine which one is the most affordable and who best fits your needs. It is also a good idea to speak with other people that have worked with the attorney. Attorneys who are difficult to work with or treat clients poorly will likely develop a bad reputation in the community, so try to avoid them if at all possible.
It’s also a good idea to consider whether an estate planning attorney will handle your probate litigation after your death. If they don’t, you may need to hire a separate attorney to perform this task. An estate planning attorney who handles probate proceedings in addition to preparing and updating your estate plans is often more cost effective than hiring multiple attorneys for different services.
You should also make sure that an estate planning attorney is licensed to practice law in your state. A license is a public record that shows that an attorney has passed the bar examination and has been approved to practice law. This means that your attorney will be able to represent you in court if a dispute arises about the legality of your estate plan.
Creating an estate plan is not something that should be done only after the occurrence of a serious event, such as a disability or a sudden death. In fact, you should create an estate plan as soon as you begin to acquire significant assets. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you set priorities, create a last will and testament, and establish trusts to minimize taxes and provide for your loved ones after your death. At Littman Krooks, our experienced New York estate planning lawyers can review your situation and advise you on the best way to proceed. Call us to schedule a consultation today.