Choosing an estate planning attorney isn’t a decision you should take lightly. After all, you’re entrusting this person to help you protect your wealth, your assets and the ones you love. How’s that for a tall order? So, given the importance of the task at hand, it only makes sense that you’d do a little legwork to find an attorney that’s right for you. Here’s a few tips to help you choose the right one:
- Meet with a number of lawyers before choosing which one you’ll work with. It’s important to get a feel for how each attorney interacts with you and how the attorney’s practice is run. A lawyer may have the top credentials and the best reputation in town, but if you don’t feel comfortable talking to them, then you should look for someone else.
- Find out how much of the attorney’s practice is dedicated to estate planning – you want someone whose main area of practice is estate planning and asset protection. Choose someone who devotes the majority of their practice to this area of the law, and make sure that they regularly take continuing legal education classes in estate planning.
- Look for an attorney with roots in your community. The more established he or she is, the more likely it is that he or she will be available in the future when you have a question or need more help.
- Look for an attorney who asks in-depth questions about your family and financial situation, and who takes the time to answer all of your questions.
- Look for an attorney who charges fair fees. Paying a bargain basement fee should not be your top priority when it comes to your estate plan. You are paying for your lawyer’s experience and qualifications, and a well-thought-out and thorough estate plan is a valuable service.
- Find out who will actually be working on your file. Will the attorney do all of the work or will he or she be assisted by a paralegal? Ask to meet any paralegal who will be helping with your file and make sure you’re comfortable with this person, too.
And last but not least, remember that your estate planning attorney should be “in it for the long haul.” The relationship you build with your attorney is akin to that of your family doctor – you want someone who knows you and your family and understands your values and goals. As a practicing estate planning attorney, I can tell you from personal experience that having this kind of solid relationship makes all the difference in the world. And when it comes to protecting your loved ones, you shouldn’t settle for anything less.
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