Estate planning is an important process for anyone with assets to pass on, but it’s also unfamiliar. For this reason, it’s best to have assistance from a lawyer who knows all of the options available to you and how to prepare the necessary documents to stand up to scrutiny later.
If you plan on consulting with a lawyer, you probably want to get the most out of your meetings. To help with this, here are a few questions to ask your potential estate planning attorney.
1. How Much Experience Do You Have with Estate Planning?
As you may be aware, most lawyers have specialized areas of practice, and many have little or no experience with estate planning. In contrast, any attorney could draft a simple will, anything more complicated that should be handled by an estate planning specialist. Many rules govern the preparation of wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents, so you want to be sure everything is done correctly and efficiently.
2. What Do You Charge for Your Services?
No doubt, this is already on your mind, and it’s perfectly acceptable to ask about the attorney’s fee structure. Some attorneys charge a flat fee for estate planning, others charge by the hour, or they may offer both options.
3. How Long Will It Take to Draft My Estate Plan?
With any legal service, it’s always good for both lawyer and client to be on the same page concerning how long the process will take. Attorneys are used to working on longer time lines and sometimes forget to communicate this to their clients. Estate planning is a fairly straight-forward service, so an attorney should be able to give you an accurate estimate.
4. Can You Create a Comprehensive Estate Plan?
A comprehensive estate plan involves more than just a will. You may want to prepare trusts, powers of attorney, life insurance documents, and more. A good estate planning attorney should be able to assist you with any of this, and provide you with guidance to decide on the best course.
5. Do You Offer Periodic Reviews of My Estate Plan?
Estate planning may seem like a “one and done” process, but it’s important to check periodically that everything is up to date. Life events such as marriage, divorce, and children will likely profoundly affect your estate planning goals. Many attorneys offer a periodic review for a set fee, so it’s good to ask about this service.
6. What Happens If You Retire or Change Firms?
Hopefully, it will be many years before you pass away and your estate plan goes into action; it’s possible that, in the meantime, your attorney retired, moved to a different firm, or even passed away themselves. However, estate planning lawyers should have a plan in place for this eventuality, and it’s important to find out what it is for your peace of mind and to make things easier for your loved ones.
Schedule Your First Meeting
Now that you have some questions prepared, the next step is to schedule an appointment. At Hoffman & Forde, our estate planning team has years of experience helping clients craft plans that meet their unique needs. We are at your disposal to answer any questions and to get the process started right away. Contact our office to set up a consultation.