What to Look for in an Estate Attorney

Because of the recent pandemic, many more people than usual have had to deal with death. While unfortunate, it has prompted many to consider their own estate plans. Having an experienced professional to help you create a comprehensive plan is essential. Read on and find out what to look for when searching for an estate lawyer.

 What Would You Like to Cover?

There is no one-size-fits-all estate plan. Your estate lawyer, once you find one, will probably want to know what you expect an estate plan to cover. They will have suggestions on some areas of estate planning that you might not have considered, but it all needs to start with you. To give you something to think about, many people choose to include these provisions in their estate plans:

  • Trusts – Keeps property out of probate, are private, and can be flexible and customized
  • Will – A basic will is necessary, even if you have a trust.
  • Guardianships – If you have minor-aged children, this is a plan for appointing someone to care for your child if both parents pass.
  • Life insurance – Speak with the lawyer about how much you should have.
  • Taxes – Spending as little as possible in taxes on assets and income is the goal.
  • Power of attorney – This covers you should you experience a severe illness and are unable to make decisions.
  • Healthcare directive – Establishes life-support wishes.

Begin Your Search

It's best to begin with a list of names, say 10 or so, and whittle the list down to one or two good choices. Even though almost everything you could imagine is available on the internet, try asking friends, family, coworkers, and other lawyers who they would recommend first. If you use a broker, accountant, or financial advisor, ask them for a recommendation. Then check their websites.

Focus on Location

Estate and probate matters are highly state-specific, so ensure the lawyer practices in your state of residence. Your county of residence is even better since they will be familiar with local probate court matters. You may only need to visit your estate lawyer occasionally, but finding one in a convenient location is a bonus.

Plan to Meet

Once you have a few good candidates, make appointments with them to chat. Many will offer you a free consultation or they will credit the fee to your account. Seeing an estate lawyer face to face allows you to experience their office staff and get a better idea of who you are dealing with.

Once you choose an estate lawyer, it might take several meetings and signature sessions to get your entire estate plan up and running. Speak to an estate lawyer to find out more.