When it comes to estate planning, there are a lot of legal and financial considerations to take into account. It’s important that you do your research before deciding on an attorney. That’s why we created this list of the most important questions to ask your attorney when meeting one for the first time. The list might seem like a lot, but most of them are designed to make sure you are working with someone who is truly qualified and able to help you create a personalized plan that addresses your needs.
There are many different kinds of attorneys out there, including some who spend more time doing litigation and other kinds of law. So it’s important to find someone who has experience in estate planning as well as probate law. It’s also important to make sure they are well-versed in your state’s laws.
Questions for Your Potential Estate-Planning Lawyer:
- Is Your Primary Focus on Estate Planning?
A good estate planning attorney should be able to answer this question for you. Just because someone says they want to handle your estate planning doesn’t mean they can actually do it. Find out if they have any other areas of expertise, such as probate law or litigation. You want to make sure they have experience and the proper education in estate planning and probate law. If they are primarily going to be handling litigation or other legal issues, you may need to consider finding someone else with experience in estate planning and probate law.
- How Long Have You Been Practicing Law?
This is a question that you should only answer if you feel comfortable doing so. If the attorney has been in practice for less than five years, you should be very cautious about working with that attorney. If the attorney admits to just having graduated law school, it’s also a red flag. It’s common for attorneys to state that they have been practicing law for several years when they are actually much less experienced. That’s because attorneys rarely reveal their true level of expertise and experience until much later in their careers. So you need to ask the attorney about this.
- Do You Actually Execute the Plan?
The attorney needs to be able to tell you about the estate planning process and how they will be executing the plan. This includes actually creating the trusts, wills, powers of attorney and everything else included in the plan. They should also be able to explain how they organized their office to execute your plan effectively. That way, if something did happen to them, you’d still have some control over your estate. Also, make sure that they are a part of this decision-making process or at least advise you on it.
- Do You Conduct Periodic Reviews?
The attorney should also be able to explain to you what they do when it’s time to revise or update your estate plan. If they don’t work on revising the plan, they’ll be unable to address any changes or new circumstances in your life. This is where many attorneys fail their clients. They create a good plan and then never touch it again. That means if something changes, your plan can no longer adequately protect you and your loved ones from the probate court.
What Is Your Estate Tax Experience? How Can I Best Manage Estate Taxes?
It is likely you will have to pay taxes when you die. However, that does not mean there is nothing that can be done. There are many steps you can take to plan for taxes and pass on your assets as efficiently as possible. Your estate planning attorney should be able to guide you through the process of preventing and minimizing taxes at death. They should also help you avoid paying unnecessary estate taxes on your heirs. Many attorneys will fail their clients here. They might not understand the importance of estate taxes. After all, it’s not something most people will have to deal with during their lifetime. But you could run into a situation where estate taxes cost your loved ones a significant portion of what you’ve worked your whole life to build up.
These are some of the most important questions to ask when interviewing your potential estate planning attorney. After you get through all the others, you should be able to find someone who will work with you on your estate plans and probate needs. Don’t forget that not all attorneys are created equal. You want someone who will take their time and explain everything to you in detail. Make sure they also have a passion for helping other people prepare their estate plans and ultimately pass on their assets in the most tax-efficient manner possible. Estate planning is often one of the first things that people think will make a big difference in the outcome they get.