If you own property, or have a significant amount of wealth in assets like retirement and investment accounts, or own your own business, it is likely time to find an estate planning attorney. This is a legal process of setting up the distribution of your personal and business assets after your death that ensures your desires are carried out as planned, while protecting the value of your estate, minimizing taxes, and providing security for your family.
Some attorneys charge a flat fee for their services, while others may bill at an hourly rate. Either way, it is important to understand the pricing structure of the attorney you choose before hiring them to perform any work on your behalf. In addition, most attorneys will require a retainer upfront to begin working on your estate plan, which may be refunded once the work is completed or used as the basis for charging you an additional sum for any unused hours.
You should interview several attorneys before you choose the right one to help you with your estate plan. Make sure you ask each attorney specific questions about your estate and what options are available for you. Inquire about each attorney’s qualifications and experience in estate planning, including education and training, as well as if they have any specialized knowledge in this area of law. Additionally, ask each attorney if they are a member of any legal organizations or councils in your state that specialize in this field.
Once you’ve narrowed down your search, schedule appointments to meet with each potential candidate in their office. Some attorneys will offer a free initial consultation, but others may have a set time limit for this appointment that you should be aware of. Ask each potential candidate what they charge for their services, as well as if they have any special research tasks that will be involved in the work you need them to perform on your behalf.
When you’re meeting with each attorney, be honest about your situation and what you hope to accomplish with the assistance of an estate planning attorney. Be sure to provide detailed information about your personal and business assets, as well as your family’s makeup and financial situation.
As you interview candidates, pay attention to their demeanor and how comfortable you feel sharing such personal information with them. You will be working closely with your attorney for the rest of your life, and it’s critical that you feel confident in their ability to understand your needs and protect your interests. A quality attorney will be able to explain complex estate planning issues in a straightforward and understandable manner, while also maintaining a professional relationship with you. This means they’ll be able to listen attentively to your goals and concerns, and provide advice that is tailored to you. If you feel uncomfortable, move on to another candidate.