Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Year's Resolution - Do A Will!

Did you make a resolution to break free from the majority of Americans who do not have a will in 2011? This time of year I usually get an up tick in phone calls, all from people who say "this is the year I'm going to get a will". Not your usual new years resolution, but all to commonly they are spurred by the caller having a close friend or relative die and leave behind a mess for their loved ones. Vowing not to do the same, they embark on the journey towards creating a will. If you are in the same boat, and are seeking an attorney to assist you, here are a few points to keep in mind in order to find an attorney who you like. Remember, you will be discussing the intimate details of your family structure, finances, and personal goals. You need to open up and bear all in order to get the most sound legal advice. Select your attorney wisely.
  1. Get a referral from someone you trust. Do you have an accountant or insurance person who has a style you like? What about a friend or relative who has completed a will -- who did they go to? If so, ask her or him for the name of an attorney who focuses on estate planning;
  2. Attend a seminar or workshop led by an estate planning attorney. Avoid those "free chicken lunch" seminars at hotels near the interstate. Those folks, who may not even be attorneys, are pedaling over priced livings trusts that most people do not need. Try finding seminars through college extension programs or other community sponsored organization;
  3. Get a description of the pricing and process in writing before hand. The attorney should know his or her practice well enough to be able to give you a concise overview of the process and costs involved. If not, seek other counsel.
  4. Interview at least 3 attorneys. Remember, they are working for you. Find the one that fits your situation, budget, and personality. There are thousands of attorneys out there, but not all of them are right for you.
  5. Check out the attorney you select with the State Bar to make sure he or she is in good standing. A simple phone call or internet search may save you a lot of hassle down the road.
Creating or updating a will and other estate planning documents is neither fun nor easy, but what new years resolutions are? And, with the right attorney, it should be far less painful than you imagine.

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