A proper, legally-binding estate plan can protect your legacy and ensure your wishes are carried out in the event of your death or incapacitation. However, establishing an effective estate plan isn’t something you can just do on your own by downloading an online DIY form. To ensure that all of the necessary requirements are fulfilled and your estate plan is legally enforceable, you will most likely need to hire an attorney who has experience in estate planning law.
Below, we’ve outlined some of the most important questions you should ask an attorney before hiring them to help draft your estate plan.
Do You Specialize in Estate Planning?
In your first meeting with an attorney, it is important to gauge how much of the attorney’s practice involves estate planning. Many attorneys offer estate planning as a service along with other legal services but only occasionally take estate planning cases.
To ensure that your rights are protected if you become incapacitated, and that your family is provided for if you pass away, it is crucial to find an attorney who regularly focuses on estate planning and has the skills to help you create a plan that will stand up to legal scrutiny.
How Does Estate Planning Work?
In addition to gauging an attorney’s experience in this area of law, you should also try to determine how the attorney approaches the practice of estate planning. Do they simply help clients fill out the required paperwork, or will they put in the extra work to consider your unique circumstances? A good estate planning attorney will do more than just the bare minimum. You want an attorney who will listen to your concerns and help you create an estate plan that meets your specific goals.
You should also find out what will be included in your estate plan. Make sure that the proposed estate plan includes documents such as a living will, a durable power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, and a living will. If you have minor children, you also might want to include a guardianship provision and establish a trust, which your children can rely on for financial support in the event of your death. Your chosen attorney should be a trusted advisor who takes all of your needs into account and establishes a customized estate plan based on your personal objectives.
Are You Able to Prioritize My Case?
You need a lawyer who understands that every case is unique. During your initial consultation, you should try to discern whether the attorney has time to give your case the attention it deserves. Sometimes, attorneys take on too many cases at once, and if their plate is overloaded, they might not be able to prioritize your case. One sign of an overworked attorney is a cluttered office. If you notice that the attorney’s desk is piled high with case documentation, or if they constantly answer the phone during your meeting, they might have too many ongoing cases to give you the individualized attention you’re seeking. One of the first things you should ask your attorney is how quickly you can expect them to respond when you have a question or concern about your estate plan. Estate planning is an intricate process, and you need a lawyer who keeps in regular contact with you each step of the way.
How Much Will Your Estate Planning Services Cost?
It’s always beneficial to determine whether an attorney’s proposed fee fits your budget. The last thing you want is to be surprised down the line. You should ask if the attorney charges a flat fee and determine what additional costs might be involved in creating your estate plan. If there are any services not included in the attorney’s flat fee, you need to know about them upfront.
How Will I Keep My Estate Plan Current?
Estate planning is not a one-time process that you will leave in the past once completed. Taking the time to update your documentation periodically can ensure your legacy is preserved and alleviates future confusion and disputes amongst your family. Updating your will every few years or so is an important way of treating your legacy with the respect and attention it deserves, especially if your wishes change over time. Will it be up to you to contact your attorney to maintain an up-to-date plan, or do they have an organized system in place to ensure your plan stays current?
Are you ready to get started on your estate plan? To learn about transferring not only your assets but your wishes and legacy, contact the Law Offices of Stephanie Hon, PLLC today to speak with an experienced Cedar Park estate planning lawyer.