So, you’re ready to begin planning for your future or updating your existing estate plan and are seeking the very best estate planning attorney in your region for the job. Here are some pointers on how to make a wise choice when picking the right estate planning legal team to meet your needs:
Research the Estate Planning Attorney’s Background
Beyond a strong academic record, look for indications that the lawyer you’re researching continues to be active in the field. Examine not only degrees but honors, certifications, memberships in organizations, community activities, high ratings, and testimonials from grateful clients.
All of these will demonstrate the attorney’s ongoing commitment to learning and serving — both of which are essential to providing strong legal counsel.
Look for an Attorney Who Specializes in Estate Planning
A general lawyer may be fine when you need a single document drafted, or are dealing with a dispute with your neighbor. If you want a comprehensive estate plan to protect your assets and your family going forward, however, you need the services of an attorney who deals exclusively with estate planning.
You should look for an estate planning attorney who is accomplished in all parts of the discipline, including:
- Protection of assets
- Wills and trusts
- Minimizing taxation
- Avoiding probate
Depending on your particular circumstances, you should consider whether the attorney you’re considering is knowledgeable about special needs trusts, charitable giving, business succession, pet trusts, or any other aspect of estate planning law especially important to you and your family.
Check Out the Estate Planning Attorney’s Experience in the Field
Though it’s good to have a lawyer who is eager and sharp, it is crucial to work with a firm with experience. As with any professional services you engage, you want a team who not only operates effectively when everything goes smoothly, but one who has the experience to handle a legal or tax entanglement if one should arise.
Be Sure of Which Services the Estate Planning Attorney Actually Provides
Be thorough. Make certain that you understand precisely which services the attorney you’re considering will provide. For example, some lawyers draw up estate planning documents but don’t execute associated trusts. Verify how available the lawyer will be to answer questions and to review your estate plan when your life goes through changes (e.g. marriage, birth of a child, adoption, divorce, a death in the family).
Make Certain the Attorney’s Fees Are Appropriate and Cost-Effective
As with other types of service, legal representation fees vary from one professional to another. Many estate planning attorneys charge flat fees, rather than hourly rates, to prevent unpleasant surprises for their clients. Some charge both, depending on the task involved.
Be careful not to jump at the lowest price you are quoted, but be aware that you will not necessarily get the best service from the most expensive lawyer. As always, it’s critical to know exactly what services are included in the amount you will be charged. Watch out for high fees for reviewing and/or altering documents, referrals, or other “extras.”
On the other hand, watch out for low prices based on cookie-cutter documents or unsatisfactory, hasty consultations. When it comes to the time it will take a first-rate attorney to plan your estate, look for the correct combination of efficiency and personalized service. Planning a typical estate should be accomplished in about 5 to 8 weeks.
In the End, Making a Personal Connection Matters Most of All
Nothing substitutes for a feeling of comfortable support from the individual (& team) you are going to trust to protect your assets and your loved ones. The estate planning attorney you choose should have strong communication skills, as well as refined legal strategies, and should come across as open and ethical. Above all, you should feel entirely comfortable sharing personal matters with your attorney. As with a healthcare provider, if you cannot be honest, your plan will not be completely effective.
Contact Surprenant & Beneski, P.C.’s Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys Now
Once you get in touch with us and come in for your initial consultation, you will be reassured that we are the right team to handle your estate planning. We have been successfully serving clients in Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod for over 15 years. In that time, we have established a reputation for personal concern and ethical behavior as well as for exceptional legal service.
Give us a call today to see how our dedication and competence can help you successfully plan your future.