So, you have made the conscious choice to move forward with your estate plan (good for you!). However, folks most often have the following questions:1) Should I do a Do-It-Yourself estate plan? 2) Do I have to hire an attorney? 3) If I hire an attorney, what are the things I should consider?
To answer the first and second questions, please take a look at our companion blog piece,Why Should I Hire an Attorney If I Can get an Estate Plan Online. The below blog intends to address the third and very important question: what do I look for in an estate planning attorney?
LOCATION. First, one should consider if the estate planning attorney they are considering is located within their state. The laws in each state surrounding this issue vary greatly and so it is very important that you retain an attorney who is familiar with the law of where you reside. A savvy attorney can assist you with determining which document(s) one should utilize based upon your estate.
EXPERIENCE. Second, an experienced attorney can help a person navigate the important decisions of which components one should use with their plan, and what might be most beneficial to them from a monetary standpoint. Each person’s estate is unique and as a result, folks have different needs. One requires an experienced attorney to navigate which plan is the most appropriate for individual needs.
FEES. Another important factor that one must consider when retaining an attorney is the payment and fee structure that the attorney will charge. For instance, is the fee structure one of a flat-fee? Is it hourly fee (and if so, what does the attorney charge per hour)? Is a retainer involved? Are there choices? The level of intricacy of one’s estate can be a driving factor towards costs, and therefore, it is important that your attorney’s fee structure either offers you the choice of payment options, or matches the level of complexity related to your estate.
PERSONALITY. As one can imagine, the personality fit between client and attorney is crucial. Since one is sharing the most intimate details of their financial estate and family dynamic, it is imperative that the attorney/ client relationship work well. Remember, the goal is to work with this attorney for years to come (to review and update your estate plan as necessary) and as such, having a solid working relationship is key.
The above is certainly not an exhaustive list of factors to consider when hiring an attorney but will assist one in starting the ever-important process of estate planning.