Find an attorney that can help create a plan that is appropriate for your situation. Main Points
- Create a list of attorneys that have experience for your specific needs.
- Narrow down the list and interview possible attorneys using a prearranged set of questions.
- Inquire about and understand the fees of each attorney.
The anticipation of finding an attorney to help you create your estate plan can seem overwhelming. However, if you have a straightforward plan, the process can be a lot easier than you might think. “Getting organized and having a system is half the battle in estate planning, and that extends to finding an attorney,” says Christin Haley, Fidelity’s vice president of advanced planning. “In fact, more than half of Americans age 55 to 64 don’t have a will in place today.” The following 3 steps can help you simplify the process of finding an attorney that is the right fit for you.
1. Search for prospects
Begin by establishing what you want to achieve with your estate plan. That information will help you determine the kind of attorney you’ll require. A lot of people require a general-purpose individual who can help create a will, a power of attorney, and a basic trust. However, many situations call for attorneys that have certain specializations. For instance, you may have reason to be particularly concerned about making the most out of benefit programs like Medicaid, or tackling long-term care, in which case you may need a professional experienced in elder law. If you have financial interests abroad, you might need the skills of an attorney that specializes in international estate planning. Moreover, if your case requires legal work in more than one district or state, make sure to consider attorneys that are licensed tin all those areas. Once you determine the kind of attorney you are going to require, you can start to devise a list of possible candidates. Begin by asking trustworthy friends and family members for recommendations. “Word of mouth is always one of the best approaches,” says Haley. “If people have had a bad experience, they’re sure to tell you.” Also seek advice from financial professionals of which you work, like financial advisors, CPAs, insurance agents, and bankers. They might be able to recommend attorneys they know and entrust. When you have your list of candidates and recommendations, investigate each attorney’s background. Check their websites for details about firm size, experience, and specialties. Look at the social media websites that the attorneys utilize. The manner in which an attorney is represented on social media websites could give you a perception of what it will be like to work alongside them.
2. Interview your potentials
Following the narrowing down of your list to the top few potentials, verify their state bar registration standing, and then speak to them about conducting an interview. (An attorney might or might not charge you for the interview.) Come ready for your first meeting with all the information that you’re going to require, comprising of your estate planning summary and any supporting documentation. Also assemble a list of questions you would like to ask potential attorneys, which includes the following:
- How long have you been in practice?
- Where did you get your education?
- How are you going to communicate with me?
- Which are the best ways to get in contact with you?
- Are you going to be my point of contact, or is it going to be someone else, like a paralegal?
- Are you going to send me updates about my plan’s status, or am I expected to take the initiative?
- How are you going to charge, and what is the rate (hourly versus fixed rate)?
- Are there any charges that aren’t included in your rate?
Moshier Law provides 10 tips for choosing an estate planning attorney. Don’t forget, this interview is your opportunity to discover an attorney who is best suited for you. Trust your gut and find a lawyer that make you comfortable. “Don’t be afraid to shop around,” says Haley. “You’ve got to have a good rapport. If the attorney you’re interviewing makes you uncomfortable during your initial interactions, you may never develop the type of open communication that is the foundation of a good working relationship.” Tip: First impressions area lasting impressions. Trust your instincts. The Moshier Estate Planner
- Assists you in organizing all your information and choices into one estate planning document. You can present this document to your attorney, financial provider, and tax consultant, to aid in using your time and money more wisely.
- Offers guidance and advice to help you choose and work with an attorney that may help you complete your estate plan and that suits your personal requirements and preferences, comprising of questions to inquire about fees and services.
- Helps you through the important factors of an estate plan and the decisions you’re required to make, preparing you beforehand to go over those issues with your attorney and financial consultant.
- Enables you to advance at your own pace and decide how much time you want to exert along the way.
3. Comprehend each attorney’s fees
Price is a primary factor in choosing an attorney. Bear in mind how much you can spend and find a lawyer whose fees are affordable for you. While many attorneys offer a free consult; many don’t. many offer a free consultation for a fixed amount of time, like the first hour, and start to charge following that. Determine what each attorney’s policy is prior to the first consultation. Fee configurations for devising an estate plan may vary also. Many attorneys will charge a flat fee, while others will charge by the hour. Flat fees commonly include everything needed to prepare the estate planning papers. Generally, straightforward estate plans, comprising of a will, power of attorney, and medical guidelines, may cost between $300 to $1,200. More convoluted plans—for instance, those that include trust documentation—can cost upwards of $5,000 or more. Individual rates can differ by jurisdictions and states, in addition to other factors. Hourly rates usually run around $150 and $200 an hour; once more, individual rates can differ by jurisdictions and states, in addition to other factors, like the size of the firm. Be wary that it’s normal for attorneys that bill hourly to bill in increase of no less than 6 minutes, or a 10th of an hour. An attorney may also pass along other fees for particular tasks, like online research, court filings, copying of documents, or messenger fees. Ask about these possible charges in advance before selecting. Following you interviewing the prospects, select the one who suits best with your requirements, personality, and budget. At this time, the attorney can present you with a retainer letter or engagement letter, a contract in which determines the type of your legal arrangement with them and the conditions of the contract you have come to. These conditions comprise of the charges you are going to be obligated with and how the attorney will bill you for their time. From that point, the attorney will assist you in devising an estate plan, and you may work alongside one another to ensure sure that it covers all your requirements. Following you establishing a working relationship with your estate planning attorney, think about reviewing the estate plan every 2 to 3 years. If you’ve not long ago gone through a significant life occurrence like remarriage, the passing away of a family member, divorce, inheritance or long term disability, it might be time to take a new look at your estate plan.
Finding an estate planning attorney. (2020, August 19). Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/wealth-management/finding-an-estate-planning-attorney
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