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You might not be able to ascertain when you’ll pass away, but you can focus on managing the aftermath.
The prudent way to achieve this is by planning your estate, including knowing how to choose estate planning lawyers. This way, you protect your assets from being consumed by taxes and creditors or distributed to the wrong beneficiaries. Also, you avoid the intricate and costly probate process and mitigate the potential for family feuds.
You need to create a will, testament, power of attorney, trust, medical directive, and other documents. However, drafting and updating your estate plan documents per your local law is not plain sailing. This is where a reputable estate planning attorney can help.
These attorneys have in-depth knowledge of estate planning attorneys. They will advise and counsel you to ensure everything is according to your wish.
Not every estate planning attorney will be the best professional for your situation. Read on for some essential tips for choosing the best estate planning attorney.
Asking for referrals is a foolproof way to choose the best estate planning attorney. Go this route, and you’ll save yourself the hassle of navigating the internet. Referrals reduce the amount of time you spend searching for the right attorney.
Phone family or friends who’ve recently hired a real estate planning attorney and ask them for recommendations. Enquire about their experiences with the attorney they worked with. Was their lawyer organized, efficient, and easy to work with?
If they answer positively to all your questions, ask for the lawyer’s contact details and add them to your referral list.
Next, reach out to the prospective attorneys on your list and ask them more about the services they offer. Finally, ask to meet with them.
Reputable and experienced lawyers will be willing to meet you face to face. If a prospective attorney says, you can’t visit their office, cut them from your list.
Visit your local bar association website to check out any lawyers referred to you. Find out whether they’re licensed to offer services in your state. If you come across a lawyer who isn’t licensed or has an out-of-date license, strike them off your list, too.
Experience is one of the most crucial things you should consider when choosing an excellent real estate planning attorney. It’ll determine how seamless the process of estate planning will be.
Thus, choosing an attorney with sufficient experience in real estate planning is non-negotiable. This is because they’re well-versed in creating vital documents like trusts, wills, and powers of attorney.
Also, they’ll be keen to identify all the assets and liabilities of the deceased and ensure they’re managed appropriately.
It’s a good rule of thumb to hire a lawyer with experience of two to three years—if you have a straightforward estate. However, if your estate is large and complicated, hire an attorney with at least seven to ten years of experience in estate planning.
To review your lawyer’s experience, consider the number of years they’ve been practicing. The longer they’ve been in practice, the more knowledge they have.
Check on Reputation
In most cases, reputation goes hand in hand with experience. Good lawyers strive to satisfy their clients and protect their name and image.
It’s unwise to overlook reputation when choosing the best estate planning attorney. Instead, do some basic online research on your prospective lawyer to get a sense of their professional reputation.
Visit the firm’s website and read any customer reviews or ratings you can find. Reputable and experienced lawyers should have a good amount of positive reviews. If there’s an overwhelming number of negative comments, be wary.
Additionally, check out your candidates on the Better Business Bureau website. Read a handful of the comments posted there to see how these lawyers treat their clients. Also, look to see if they’ve had any complaints filed against them.
Proceed with caution if you confirm your prospective lawyer has any issues.
Ask For References
Before you decide to hire a particular lawyer, ask for references from their past clients. You want to get information straight from the horse’s mouth. It’ll help you work out whether your prospective lawyer is who they claim to be.
If they fail to offer you their client’s contact details, proceed with caution. They could be inexperienced or lousy at their job. In addition, they might be concealing something from you.
Reliable lawyers have pride in their work and hate delays.
After getting the reference information, phone the previous clients to ask about their estate planning experience with the lawyer, you’re considering working with. Was it an easy and enjoyable experience?
Based on the information you get, determine whether that lawyer is a good fit for you or not. If their past clients complain about the services offered, proceed with caution. You want to choose a lawyer whose clients would work with them again.
Confirm Their Availability
Schedule a consultation with the potential lawyers on your list. During the meeting, ask who will walk you through the estate planning process. Will the lawyer you’re speaking with then be available, or will they pass you to a junior lawyer?
If the lawyer is handling many clients and is likely to pass you off to another staff member, avoid them. You might end up working with an inexperienced attorney whose services don’t match your standards.
It’s wise to avoid lawyers who are juggling many clients at once. This is because they might struggle to focus on your work and satisfy your needs. In addition, it might be difficult for you to communicate with them or work around their tight schedules.
Tips to Choose Estate Planning Lawyers
Estate planning is an effective way to ensure your assets are managed and shared with your heirs appropriately. Therefore, it’s crucial to choose estate planning lawyers that are a good fit for your personality and needs.
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