Death is inevitable, and no one can predict when it will occur. So, it would be best if you were ready for such an event by controlling the effects like succession and who gets what to ensure your loved ones are in better hands. One of the ways to prepare yourself is through estate planning. Estate planning involves deciding what will happen to your real estate and personal property in case of your demise. The law provides a default scheme for property disposal, but relying on it can involve prolonged court processes and massive tax results for your heirs.
The best alternative is to plan your estate through written documents such as trusts and wills. This can help you alleviate court battles because of the various intentions of your heirs and family battles. Estate planning is impacted by many factors and variables. The process doesn’t have to be overwhelming, especially if you hire experienced and reliable an attorney like Beckemeier LeMoine Law to help you with this responsibility. So, how do you select the best estate planning attorney and make the process more manageable? Here are a few tips to consider.
List down your specific needs
Before finding an estate planning attorney, you must first know your needs. After this, list your goals and objectives for your estate plan. It will be easier for you to find help from someone if you know your endgame. Some of your needs can be:
- Writing the entire plan from scratch
- Reviewing or updating an existing plan
- Adding/completing an aspect of your plan, such as setting up a guardianship or designating beneficiaries
- Advice/help on how to eliminate/reduce tax liabilities for your beneficiaries/estate in future
- Setting up and funding a trust fund
Select an estate planning attorney who can help you to undertake this activity effectively.
Know the attorney’s specific tasks
When selecting an estate planning attorney, have a deep understanding of what this lawyer can offer to do for you. Prepare a list of attorneys that are in the same field. When you have many options, you can start narrowing down your possibilities using your choice criteria. You can also have a checklist regarding whether or not the potential attorney can responsibly commit to their task in your estate planning process.
Remember, the primary objective of estate planning is to ensure that you solemnly have control over the distribution of your assets in the event of your death. A good estate planning attorney should invest their time to know you more, your family, and other intricacies. This is to ensure that the issues are addressed in your estate plan in the best way possible.
Inquire about their field of specialization
It is of paramount importance when choosing an attorney that you are sure that they are specialized in estate planning. This might seem obvious advice, but most lawyers are jacks of all trades. Even though estate planning might not be their area of specialization, they remain qualified to do this due to their knowledge of the law. The best option is to select an attorney specializing in the estate plan. Because they specifically work in this area, they know the essentials and basis of estate planning.
Ask for recommendations
When searching for an Estate planning attorney, recommendations can be worth your while. Finding a trusted estate planning attorney can give you peace of mind. You will feel reassured if you know a family member or friend who has the same goals and values in life and also has someone who gets what’s important to you. Your networks can help create a shortlist of potential attorneys who may be a good fit for you. Family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, or anyone who is proactive, responsible, and trustworthy can be a vital source of information when it boils down to referrals. If you already have an attorney in mind, you might ask them if they know anything about them.
Observe the questions asked by the attorney
Estate planning is quite a personal process. Your domestic situation as a client will always vary from you to another person. For example, you may have four children that are recognized and legitimate. This makes it easy for the estate planning attorney to undertake the process. But on the other hand, another client has two legitimate children, 1 adopted child, and three illegitimate ones. This complicates and makes the process trickier. Therefore, a good estate planning attorney should take a lot of time to get to know you as a client in detail.
Always check if the lawyer is asking the correct and relevant questions. Also, observe how the attorney you’re dealing with is asking the questions. If they don’t ask questions, then this should signal a red flag for you. It shows that they’re not interested in delivering your best estate plan.
Take your time in interviewing prospects
This is an important aspect when selecting a competent estate planning attorney. Perform due diligence research to know the prospects better. A simple way to do this is by interviewing the options on your list. The interviewing process doesn’t need to be complicated or lengthy.
Creating a quick set of questions can help determine if you’ll be comfortable with the attorney. It will also let you know if you can trust them to advise you accordingly. Here are some of the possible interview questions that you can ask your prospective estate planning attorney candidates:
- Where did you graduate from?
- For how long have you been practicing?
- Moving forward, how should we communicate?
- What’s the best way to get in touch with you?
- Who will be my contact person at your office?
- How will I receive updates regarding my plan?
- What are the rates and fees? Do you charge a flat fee or hourly?
- Are there additional charges outside the rates?
- What other certifications do you hold?
One of the essential things that you can do is create an estate plan. An estate plan will protect you and ensure that your heirs know their future is secured. Equipped with the tips above, finding the best estate planning attorney won’t be much of a hassle. You can select and hire the best which is be a massive win since you will enjoy proper legal counsel and avoid making potential mistakes.