With the help of a qualified estate planning attorney, you can make wise decisions in passing on your assets to those you love. Finding the right attorney is key to getting the professional estate planning services you need. You may need to interview various prospects to find the right candidate for the job.
Here are a few questions you can ask a potential estate planning attorney to determine if he or she is right for you.
1. IS ESTATE PLANNING YOUR PRIMARY FOCUS?
If your estate is expansive or complicated, you’ll want an attorney whose primary focus is estate planning, as he or she will have more experience in this field. When talking to an attorney, ask for a brief synopsis of his or her background and expertise. If possible, ask your attorney to provide referrals of former clients to see how they rate the attorney’s professional standard, services and work ethic.
2. WILL YOU SEND ME DOCUMENTATION TO STUDY AND REVIEW?
If you’re like most people, you probably have little experience with wills, trusts and other legal documents pertaining to estate planning. As such, you may need time to review documents after they’re prepared to make sure they accurately represent your interests. A good attorney will respect your wishes and do all he or she can to ensure you’re comfortable and happy with his or her work.
3. WILL YOU PROVIDE ASSISTANCE WITH FUNDING A REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST?
Living trusts make it easier to pass on assets to beneficiaries without going through probate. With a revocable living trust, you can continue to benefit from your assets while you’re alive and have them transferred to your beneficiary upon your demise.
In order for these assets to be transferred properly, they need to be funded. By hiring an attorney who provides assistance with funding, you can have greater confidence that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes after your demise. Your attorney may charge more for this service, but it will eliminate problems in settling your estate once you are gone.
4. DO YOU HAVE AN OFFICIAL UPDATING AND MAINTENANCE PROGRAM?
Some estate planning attorneys are more thorough in their job than others. In addition to drafting your legal documents, they will provide annual or semiannual reviews of your documents to see if modifications are needed to accommodate changes in estate planning laws or your personal situation. Updating and maintenance services may cost a little extra but they will ensure your estate is in order upon your demise.
5. WHAT KIND OF COSTS ARE INVOLVED?
It’s important that you discuss the cost of legal services up front so you can plan accordingly. Some attorneys charge a flat fee while others charge by the hour. If your attorney charges a flat fee, be sure to get a written account of what services this fee covers to avoid being hit with hidden fees and costs for “additional services” later down the line.
Some attorneys convert their flat fees into hourly rates once basic services have been completed. This could substantially increase attorney costs. When contracting an estate planning attorney, ask your attorney to specify all services that will be provided in writing along with their respective fees and costs.
Last, but not least, ask yourself if you feel comfortable working with the individual you’re considering hiring. Keep in mind you’ll be sharing confidential details about your life, finances and personal assets with the attorney you choose. By selecting an attorney you can establish a rapport with and trust, you will have greater peace that your estate will be in good hands.
If you are looking for an estate planning attorney in Orange County, Corona, or Newport Beach call OC Elder Law today to set up a consultation.