19 Nov 5 Questions to Ask before Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney
By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
November 19, 2015
5 Questions to Ask before Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney
An estate planning attorney is a legal professional who helps his or her clients get organized and prepared for during life and after death. Through years of experience and education, an estate planning attorney offers knowledgeable help in organizing your affairs, filing documentation, and planning effective wills and trusts.
When selecting an estate planning attorney, it’s important to make sure he or she is the right fit for your situation. Your attorney will play a crucial role in passing on your life’s work to your family and friends, so you’ll want to select a skilled professional.
But how do you know that an estate planning attorney is skilled? Or if they are right for you?
It’s a good idea to find out more about your attorney before you hire them. We’ve prepared a list of questions you may want to use to decide if a prospective estate attorney is a good fit for you.
Here are five questions you might ask a prospective estate planning attorney:
- What are your legal fees?
For many, this will be the most important factor for picking an attorney. You can get some idea of how much your estate planning will cost by asking about your attorney’s fees. Depending on the service requested, you may get a flat fee or an hourly rate.
Cost isn’t the only factor you should consider, however. The experience and reputation of an attorney should also weigh heavily in your decision.
- What should I bring to our initial consultation?
It will help your attorney to know the specifics of your situation. He or she may want you to bring information to the initial meeting to learn more about you, and to better answer any questions that you have. This information might concern your marital status, an inventory of your assets, special concerns, number of heirs, or other estate matters.
If an attorney doesn’t ask you to bring any documentation or doesn’t seem sure about the kinds of information that you should have with you, it’s typically not a good sign.
- Where are you licensed to practice?
If you have assets in other states—like a home or business, for example—you might ask your estate planning attorney about whether they can manage affairs in that state. To practice law in another state, an attorney often needs to be licensed by that state’s Bar.
- I have a complex estate planning issue. Can you answer all my questions?
Estate attorneys often specialize in a particular area of estate law. Beyond executing wills, some attorneys specialize in probate, trusts, and/or tax law. You should make sure your attorney has experience in the particular service you require.
Beyond this, it’s important to bring up any specific concerns you might have about your individual situation at that initial meeting. If your attorney feels someone else might be better suited to your needs, he or she can give you a reference.
- Do I need to update my will?
Sometimes, circumstances change and you may need to modify your will. Life changes like marriage, divorce, or having a child might require you to update the terms you have outlined in your will.
Your attorney will be able to advise you on this situation and help you make the necessary changes if you do decide to modify your estate plan.
Find the Right Estate Planning Attorney
It’s important to hire expert legal consultation when managing matters as important as your estate. Asking questions and expressing your needs is essential to picking the correct attorney for your unique situation.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose