There is a certain peace of mind that comes with having your affairs in order, and the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to evaluate your finances, goals and plans for the future. If you are thinking it might be time to prepare your will, choosing a lawyer to plan your estate is an important first step.
Finding the right fit for you is vital for a number of reasons, as your attorney will have many important responsibilities. They will first and foremost draw up your will for the management of your property after you have passed away. Depending on your needs, they may handle your living will or power of attorney. No matter what, your lawyer will walk you through a number of important life decisions. Because every person (and every will) is different, there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to estate planning.
Where to Start
Choosing the right attorney can feel overwhelming. Billboards, online advertisements and television commercials for law firms are everywhere. You are looking for the right attorney for your personal needs – not just the most well-known or most advertised one.
The best place to start is asking for personal recommendations. A trusted family member or friend might have recently worked with a lawyer and had a great experience. Also consider other connections you may have. Do you have an accountant or financial planner? Both are great resources when looking for the right estate planning lawyer.
If you can’t find a personal recommendation, there are online resources and directories for locating an estate planning lawyer. Keep in mind that you are searching for a lawyer who specializes in estate planning and tax law. Most lawyers are capable of drawing up a simple will, but a lawyer who is experienced in those areas will be far more equipped to assist you with your estate planning.
Ask the Right Questions
Once you have done your initial research, do not be afraid to speak with multiple lawyers before choosing one for your estate planning. When you are talking with a potential lawyer, make sure you ask the right questions. Is estate planning their primary practice area or specialty? Ask each lawyer about their billing policies. Do they charge hourly or in a flat amount? Will they be able to update your will in the future, if needed?
Consider how long the lawyer has been practicing law, particularly in the field of estate planning and tax law. How is their work delegated? It’s not unusual for a portion of legal work to be handled by others beside your primary attorney. However, if the bulk of your estate planning will be handled by a different attorney or paralegal, it is helpful to know that in advance.
Choose Someone You Trust
Estate preparation is a personal task that requires intimate knowledge of the client, their finances and their family situation. Choose a lawyer you feel you can trust and are comfortable talking to when it comes to personal matters. The right attorney will be ready and willing to get to know you, your family (which may include the executor of your estate), and most of all, listen to your story. To an estate planning lawyer, you are not just a name and an itemized list of property. The best lawyer for you is the one who understands where you are coming from and what your goals are for the future.
Finding a great estate planning lawyer is just one of the many things you can do to plan wisely for the future. There are other important considerations, such as funeral arrangements, to also think about in advance. Pre-planning your end-of-life desires not only ensures that your wishes are known, but is a gift to your family and friends to know that they are keeping in line with what you would have wanted. To speak to a knowledgeable funeral director and learn more about pre-planning, call Bevis Funeral Home today at 850-385-2193.