An estate planning attorney works with individuals to create an appropriate legal document that expresses their wishes regarding the disposition of property after death. This includes naming beneficiaries, assigning guardians for minor children and creating trusts that minimize estate taxes. An estate planning attorney also has the necessary knowledge to assist with complicated matters such as a business succession plan. Individuals can find qualified attorneys through recommendations from trusted friends and family members or by conducting online research.
The first step in finding a suitable estate planning attorney is to ask for references from past clients. This will provide insight into the attorney’s professionalism, effectiveness and client satisfaction. The next step is to interview prospective attorneys. Ask each attorney for a detailed description of their services and how they may help with an estate plan. Individuals should also find out about the attorney’s fees and whether they charge hourly rates or flat fees.
A reputable attorney should be transparent about their fee structure and provide a written contract that outlines the scope of their work. This will prevent any unexpected charges down the road. Additionally, it is important to consider the attorney’s availability and responsiveness. An attorney who is difficult to reach or does not return phone calls is probably not the right fit for an estate planning case.
While researching potential attorneys, it is important to find out how much experience they have in the field of estate planning. It is also a good idea to find out if they are members of any professional organizations related to estate planning law. This information can help individuals feel confident that they are hiring an experienced professional who is familiar with the relevant laws and regulations.
Before deciding on an attorney, it is a good idea to review the firm’s website and client reviews. These can provide valuable insights into the firm’s culture, customer service and overall reputation. Individuals should also take into account the number of complaints that have been filed against the firm. While some minor complaints are to be expected, an excessive number of complaints should raise a red flag.
During the interview process, individuals should also ask about the attorney’s education and experience in estate planning. They should find out how long they have been in practice and if they are members of any professional organizations that focus on this area of the law. This will give individuals confidence that they are choosing an attorney who has the necessary expertise to help them with their estate plan.
An effective estate plan should include a will, living trust documents, power of attorney and health care directives. Having this document in place can ensure that a person’s wishes are followed after their death. In addition, the document should address any issues involving inheritance tax and naming beneficiaries of life insurance policies or real estate. Finally, the document should contain a detailed inventory of assets to determine the size of an estate for tax purposes.