While more than half of Americans believe estate planning is essential, a mere 33% actually have a living trust or will. And one out of three respondents who don’t have a will reason that they don’t think they have sufficient assets to warrant estate planning.
Should you ignore estate planning just because you don’t have many assets to leave behind? The short answer is “no” since estate planning is about more than just how much money you have.
Estate planning offers advantages like providing for your immediate family, ensuring your assets are distributed how you want, supporting causes near and dear to your heart, and more. But if you don’t sit down with a lawyer to do your estate planning, you can’t be sure your wishes will be honored after your passing.
So, how do you find the right person to help you with this essential task? Continue reading for five questions to ask estate planning attorneys before deciding which one to hire.
1. Do You Focus Exclusively on Estate Planning?
Specialization matters. So, your best bet is to find a lawyer whose practice focuses on estate planning. You’ll want the person you hire to be up to date on any law or regulation changes that impact estate planning. The last thing you’ll want is for your will to be invalidated after your passing due to a technicality that your estate planning lawyer should have picked up on.
2. How Long Have You Been an Estate Planning Lawyer?
While it’s essential to find a lawyer specializing in estate planning, it’s also critical to find one who has been doing so for a long time. A lawyer who has served for a long time will have experience dealing with challenges to estate planning documents prepared for now-deceased clients. How did the lawyer fare in defending a now-deceased client’s wishes? Court challenges are part of the estate planning process. There’s always someone who doesn’t appreciate how a deceased loved one allocated his or her assets — and some will mount court challenges. You’ll want an estate planning attorney who knows how to handle these hurdles successfully.
3. Do You Provide Periodic Reviews?
Estate planning isn’t a one-and-done affair. You must have periodic reviews to make possible changes when there are changes in your life. If you get married, have kids, or build up your asset base, you’ll want to ensure your estate planning factors these changes into the equation. So, ask any estate planning attorney you’re considering if reviews are offered. Whether semi-annually or annually, you’ll want to have a sit down with the lawyer to review your plan.
4. Are You Able to Help Me Create a Thorough Estate Plan?
When looking for an estate planning lawyer, ensure you find one that can help you develop thorough estate plans. That means estate plans that include trusts, wills, and life insurance policies. An estate planning attorney with this level of experience will be able to help you best.
5. How Much Do You Charge?
You’ll also want to know how much the estate planning lawyer you hire charges — and then consider which charging option you prefer. Some charge flat fees, some charge by the hour, and others charge flat fees for some tasks and by the hour for other tasks. What you want is to find an estate planning attorney who is upfront and transparent when it comes to pricing.
If you haven’t gotten around to estate planning yet, you’ll want to make it a priority. Find a reputable estate planning attorney who can explain the process, help you make the proper arrangements, and then walk you through periodic reviews to ensure everything’s okay.
I’m a single mother of 2 living in Utah writing about startups, business, marketing, entrepreneurship, and health. I also write for Inc, Score, Manta, and Newsblaze