Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Six Things to Consider When Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney

When it comes time to hire a lawyer to draft a will, opening up the phone book or running a Google search is usually not the best approach for those in need of an attorney's counsel.  Why?  When developing an estate plan to fit your needs you need to be able to share openly the ins and outs of your financial situation, family dynamic and other sensitive concerns.  Here are a few things you may want to consider when seeking out an attorney for your will, etc:

  1. Interview 3 or 4 different attorneys.  Remember you are hiring this person, so hire someone who is not only competent, but whom you like;
  2. Ask friends, family, and neighbors for referrals.  Chances are if they did not like an attorney who helped them they will tell you why, and if they liked the attorney they will give a great endorsement;
  3. Look for an educator.  Estate planning is full of technical terms and concepts.  Seek out an attorney who is willing to explain what they are creating for you and why.  A good attorney will know that a client who understands how to maintain an estate plan when the work is complete will not only be happy, but well served;
  4. Full disclosure.  Before signing on make sure you have in writing the fees and procedures for billing.  This prevents any surprises and or confusion; 
  5. An attorney who is willing to let go.  Current practice recommends that attorneys give clients the final papers when the drafting is done.  That gives the client, aka consumer, full control over who to hire when updates are needed.  A good attorney will trust their work and release the forms, trusting you will return if the client felt it was a good fit; and
  6. An attorney who focuses on illness, death and taxes.  Just as you would probably not want an allergy doctor to perform your c-section, why have a lawyer who dabbles in wills.  This is a complex area, and a specialist should know his or her stuff.
Did I miss something?  If so, please leave a comment.  And thanks for reading!

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