A good estate planning attorney is something that you should shop around for. In Ohio alone there are hundreds, of lawyers well-versed in estate law.
Unlike criminal lawyers or lawyers who specialize in other areas, estate lawyers are people you may meet with multiple times in your life to amend your estate plan.
This means you need to pick an estate planning lawyer that you feel comfortable with. The process of doing so is very much like an interview. You ask them questions and if you feel comfortable and better informed by the answers, then they are likely a great choice for an estate planning attorney.
So what should you ask to better know your estate planning lawyer?
What is a "Trust," "Will," "Guardianship," "Conservatorship," ect?
Estate planning is a complicated area of the law, and people tend to not like to think about. This means that most of the time when you start the estate planning process, you don't know very much about the terminology and the different options available to you
This means if you have questions on a particular aspect, when you ask, it is well explained. Even better, they explain it before you even ask, even if it is a quick overview or definition.
How Long Does the Estate Planning Process Take?
There is no set answer for this question, and that should be sort of what your estate planning attorney of choice will tell you. Some people can hammer out their last wishes in a few hours while others will take a few weeks.
The key is that you want to create a plan that clearly spells out your wishes as well as keeps the estate as whole as possible for your beneficiaries. This means that you want to avoid probate and as many estate taxes as possible.
What is Your Experience with Estate Law?
For personal injury lawyers, it is okay if they handle a wide variety of accidents and different injuries because while worker's compensation and a bus accident may be slightly different, legally, they are still pretty similar.
However, when choosing an estate planning attorney, you want them to be experienced in estate planning law. Ideally, it should be one of their few areas of practice and they should be able to go over their experience in doing so.
How Do I Make Adjustments to My Estate?
This question is more of a way of testing the waters in how your lawyer operates. Some attorneys will offer an annual review of the estate to keep it up to date.
This is fairly important because of law and tax changes that can happen. However, if your lawyer doesn't schedule these updates, it may not be a deal breaker for you. You will just have to remember to make an appointment to update your estate.
How to Avoid Probate?
This final question is one you should ask every estate planning attorney. This question and the way they answer will give you a pretty clear picture of whether they have your best interests in mind or they just want their paycheck.
So what is the answer you are looking for?
The best answer would be to steer you towards a living trust that would allow most assets to bypass probate. If they simply suggest a will, then that will still need to go through probate, which means they will collect lawyer fees for representing it.
Are You Ready to Ask The Questions?
Are you considering the future of your estate and ready to begin the estate planning process?
Contact us today. As estate and trust lawyers, we are ready to answer each and every one of your pressing questions confidently and in a way that you feel comfortable having us craft an estate plan with you.