It’s understood below.
Any lawyer may create a straightforward will for minor situations, such as naming the beneficiary of one’s 401(k). Still, experienced trust-and-estate lawyers can guide clients through more complex cases involving several trusts and multiple heirs.
Questions to be Asked before hiring an Estate Planning Attorney.
You can learn more about estate planning and decide if hiring a potential estate planning attorney is ideal for you by asking the following questions.
- Is an estate planning attorney your main priority?
You should move further if a candidate responds “yes” to this inquiry. An expert in estate planning will be knowledgeable about any amendments to the law and possess the essential tactical insight to word your documents correctly.
- When did you start considering the hiring of an estate planning attorney?
It would be best if you tried to hire the most skilled lawyer you can—one who has witnessed ready documents take effect following a client’s passing. These lawyers are experienced in overcoming obstacles and will have dealt with issues from the IRS or courts.
- Will the estate planning attorney do recurrent evaluations?
Some estate-planning lawyers will evaluate your affairs every six months to a year for a nominal cost. This gets crucial since your plan will require changes in your life or finances. In addition, aspects of your estate planning may change due to recent legislation changes.
- Can you assist in developing a complete estate plan with wills, trusts, and life insurance?
Comprehensive estate plans can incorporate your other wills, trusts, and life insurance policies. Consequently, your estate lawyer must be competent in these fields. In addition, you may want your estate lawyer’s assistance in figuring out the specifics of each estate-planning instrument and selecting the ones that may be best for you.
- How are fees handled while hiring an estate planning attorney?
Estate planning lawyers frequently bill at flat rates rather than by the hour. Some charge an hourly rate for specialized research tasks and a predetermined rate for specific services like setting up trusts. Anyhow, it’s a good idea to ask about compensation. In any case, it’s wise to inquire about compensation models to avoid surprises.
- What are your thoughts on a revocable living trust?
Assets placed in a revocable living trust can avoid the expensive and burdensome probate procedure (filing a will with the court). However, revocable living trusts do not exempt beneficiaries from paying inheritance, estate, or income taxes, so this may not be the best course for everyone.
Unfortunately, some attorneys advocate these arrangements merely to increase their fees.
- What other matters do you deal with?
Long-term physical and mental health problems are more likely as life expectancy rises. By creating powers of attorney, healthcare directives, and living wills, estate attorneys can assist their clients in financially preparing for the likelihood of disability or dementia.
- When will you finish working on my estate planning project?
Even though there is typically no pressing need, remember to talk about your estate plan with other experts like accountants, retirement planners, or money managers. However, an estate lawyer may know both areas. They might not be general tax or investment experts. Allow yourself enough time to have a more significant—moreover, overall view of your estate plan and the logistical considerations involved in putting it into action.
- Will you email the estate planning paperwork so I can study it?
Even if you’re dealing with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer, it’s crucial to examine every piece of paperwork. It prevents misunderstandings. Make it clear what will change later and what cannot change.
- Do you follow through on the plan?
While some attorneys only draft estate planning documents, others carry out related trust executions. Hiring a lawyer ensures that good assets are typically more effective in the latter case.
While considering hiring an estate planning attorney, you must ensure that the attorney carries some significant experience in estate planning and is reliable enough to be appointed. This will lessen your burden and give you an edge in case of any dispute or discrepancy.