As with any other important aspect of “life planning,” not all advisors are created equal or serve the same function, so you should know exactly what you want from your estate planning lawyer before beginning your search. There are a few items you should consider before choosing an attorney. Although this is not an exhaustive list, here are some considerations that apply almost universally to anyone who is considering working with an estate planning lawyer.
An Estate Planning Lawyer Who Specializes in The Practice
The fundamental question to ask yourself is, “Do they practice primarily (or exclusively) in this field of law?” Just as there are doctors who specialize in specific fields of medicine, such as general practice, cardiology, or oncology, there are attorneys who are generalists and those who limit their practice to a single area of law. The advantage of this latter approach is that the attorney is far more likely to be up to date on current law and issues pertaining to that practice area. They are also more likely to correctly spot various areas that may cause problems in the future if sufficient planning is not undertaken.
Find Out How Long They Have Been in Practice
The length of time an attorney has been practicing estate law and their unique experience are two of the most crucial aspects to consider. It is wise to choose someone who has experience drafting key documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and other estate planning documents. It is critical to have a lawyer that is educated in all elements of estate planning, especially if you also require assistance with complex matters such as business succession planning.
You may also want to research whether they have any experience in administering probate estates or trusts. In other words, do they only know what happens in theory or have they seen documents work in practice. Consider your individual needs and choose a lawyer whose experience closely matches them to find what you’re looking for.
Make Sure You Can Trust Them
The attorney-client relationship is built on trust, and estate planning is very personal. Even though an attorney has extensive experience in estate planning, things can go wrong if you do not feel comfortable or create a rapport with them. Remember that you may be discussing sensitive matters such as finances, family strife, naming beneficiaries, appointing a guardian for minor children, end-of-life decisions, and other critical issues. Finding a lawyer with whom you can be open and honest will help ensure that you and your lawyer are on the same page.
Although online reviews can be useful when searching for a lawyer, word of mouth is also a good approach to learning about an attorney’s reputation. Outstanding estate planning and wills and trusts lawyers are frequently well-known in the communities they serve. Inquire with friends, relatives, and coworkers about someone they would recommend. When speaking with an attorney, you may also consider asking whether they have experience with assisting someone in your circumstances.
Choosing the perfect estate planning lawyer may appear difficult, but with a little research and effort, you can find someone who is a good “fit” and looking out for your best interests. If you need assistance with wills and trusts, estate planning, or business succession planning, Promise Law can get you started and lead you through the process.
Let Us Help with Your Will and Other Estate Planning Documents
If you’re considering creating an estate plan, a good place to start is by attending one of Promise Law’s free estate planning workshops. These workshops provide a great foundation of information that everyone needs to make sound planning decisions. Moreover, if you attend a workshop, you also get a complimentary one-on-one consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer.