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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Finding the Estate Planning Attorney Who's Right For You

Selecting an estate planning attorney can be overwhelming.  Here are some pointers to help you make the right choice.

Qualifications.  It is fair to question an attorney as to how they developed their estate planning expertise.  Often attorneys who are transitioning, or trying to expand their practice, present themselves as an estate planning attorney although they might have little experience.  Ask how many trusts have   you drafted?  Do you hold any advanced degrees?  To which professional associations do you belong?  Keep in mind that it is impossible to be an expert in all areas of the law.

Attorney’s Fees.  Cost is always an important factor, however, making your decision solely on price may not be wise.  In setting fees, a reputable attorney will consider the amount of time that they will need to invest and the complexity of the plan.  Once they know what needs to be done, they can quote a fee.

Customized Documents. Every family situation is unique.  A high-quality estate plan should be custom drafted to fit your needs and the needs of your family.  Be suspicious of attorneys who quote flat fees over the phone for anything more than a simple will, or who advertise low prices for trusts.  This often means the attorney does not custom draft documents but rather uses the same boilerplate document for every client and simply fills in the blanks.  That is not planning, it’s simply word processing.

The Process.  During your planning meeting your attorney should spend several hours with you and your spouse  gathering detailed information about you, your children, grandchildren, and other loved ones.  You will share the dreams and fears you have for yourself and your family.  Whether you are single, divorced, widowed, married , or have a blended family,  the planning process should also include a lot of interactive questions intended to help formulate the unique plan that is right for you.

Additional Services.  Be sure to ascertain exactly which services your attorney provides   and whether there are additional costs for:  trust funding (changing title and/or ownership to your trust); answering questions and telephone conversations with you or your financial advisors; reviewing and explaining your estate plan with your successor trustees and with your family in the event of your disability or death; future modifications to your estate plan; and recording and filing fees.

Success. A successful estate plan establishes clear instructions to inform your successors and trustees as to what your objectives are and what they should be doing .  Your planning also establishes a team of professionals who are ready and able to advise and assist you and your successors.  Look for an estate planning attorney with whom you feel you can develop a long-term bond and relationship and with whom you and your spouse feel comfortable and at ease.  Planning is not a transaction, it is a lifelong exercise.  Chemistry is important, as is competence and shared values.  Do your research.  Ask questions.

Contact Iden Law Offices today for more information






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