Choosing the right estate planning attorney has much in common with choosing any type of professional (e.g. doctor, accountant, architect). You want someone who is not only skilled and knowledgeable in their field, but who is completely trustworthy, pleasant to work with, and accommodates your needs.
Keep in mind that when choosing your estate planning lawyer, you are choosing the person who will not only prepare crucial legal documents but will create an overall plan to protect your assets and to help secure your future and the future of your family. This blog is designed to give you some tips on how to choose the right estate planning attorney to meet your particular needs.
The lawyer you pick should be someone you feel comfortable having an ongoing relationship with because your estate plan will have to be reviewed and updated periodically and because in order to do the job well this person must have an understanding of the unique elements of your family structure, your finances, and your goals.
Tips for Finding the Right Estate Planning Attorney
1. Do Some Research
Some people have the good fortune to be referred to an excellent estate planning attorney
by a good friend and find that individual suits their needs perfectly. More often than not, however, the lawyer recommended may lack special training in an area important to you or
may not deal primarily with clients of your income bracket.
It is wise to get a few references and do some research on your own so you can make meaningful comparisons. Also, take a look at your prospective attorney’s website to assess the size of the practice and what they consider most important. You want to make sure you share their priorities.
2. Be Prepared to Meet with At Least 2 or 3 Estate Planning Attorneys
This will be time well spent. After all, the decision you make now may affect your family for several generations. You should shop around at least as much as you do for a car or a significant gift. It is a good idea to have a list of questions for each lawyer, focusing on your areas of special concern. Don’t be afraid to ask these attorneys for references and to check them.
3. Make Sure that the Attorneys You Choose Are Solely Estate Planning Lawyers
While general attorneys can certainly draft a legally binding will, an estate planning attorney
will have in-depth knowledge about the intricacies of establishing trusts, avoiding probate, and minimizing taxes. Lawyers specializing in estate planning will have a wealth of information about particular inheritance issues concerning things like planning to protect a special needs child and making sure that your family will thrive even if you become incapacitated.
4. Ask Questions to Help You Understand How This Relationship Will Work
Examples of such questions include:
- How long have you been practicing?
- What do you feel is the most important service you provide?
- How and how often will we communicate if I become your client?
- Will I always speak to you or a paralegal in your office?
- What are the best ways to contact you? How quickly should I expect a response?
- Will you keep me updated and request meetings or should I take the initiative?
- How much do you charge? Hourly or a fixed rate? Extra charges for specific tasks?
5. Seek an Estate Planning Attorney with Ties to the Community
You should seek an attorney well-rated by respectable sources who shows an interest in the community they serve and who gives back to that community. Memberships in charitable as well as professional organizations, working as a mentor, and recognition as a supportive presence by clients and colleagues — all indicate that the lawyer you are evaluating cares about others and is actively involved in community service.
Contact Our Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys Today
If you are in Southeastern Massachusetts or on Cape Cod, get in touch with Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. to discover superior legal representation in a friendly, warm environment. Our attorneys are dedicated to providing you with excellent service that is customized to meet your needs. Contact us now to see how well we compare to other practices.