Blended family estate planning presents challenges, and one size fits all estate plans may not work. An experienced estate planning attorney will...
How To Choose An Estate Planning Attorney
An estate planning attorney will create a plan that eliminates stress and serves your needs. This guide will help you choose an estate planning attorney that's best for you!
A good estate-planning attorney will eliminate stress and create a plan that serves your needs. This guide will help you start your estate plan on the right foot by choosing the best lawyer for you!
An estate planning attorney can help you set your family up for success, prevent crucial missteps, and aid you in updating your plans as your life circumstances change. They will also help you stay on top of changing laws that affect your estate.
But how do you find an estate planning attorney that is right for you, and what should you look for? Finding the right attorney is an important undertaking and isn’t always as simple as a quick internet search. Below we’ll share a few tips on how to find the best estate planning attorney:
How To Find The Best Estate Planning Attorney
To find the best estate planning attorney, you should:
- Find An Attorney Who Specializes in Estate Planning
- Get a Referral from an Attorney or Financial Advisor
- Understand Your Attorney’s Pricing
- Don’t Limit Your Search to Local Lawyers
Find An Attorney Who Specializes in Estate Planning
Most attorneys are not experienced in estate planning. It is a specialty that requires experience and unique skills. You should look for an attorney who specializes in trust and estate law in your state. The question to ask is, do they exclusively practice trusts and estates law?
A dedicated estate planning attorney will be up-to-date on the laws and issues that apply to your estate planning needs. Because they are more experienced in this specialty, they will be better equipped to create a personalized and unique plan for you. If you made a mistake in your plan before you came to them, then they are more likely to catch it early and fix things before they cause serious problems.
Get a Referral from an Attorney or Financial Advisor
A great place to start your search is to ask your trusted financial advisor, CPA, or other attorneys you have worked with for a referral. Often, they will know or work closely with estate planning attorneys they trust. It is always a good sign when your estate planning attorney is well-respected by other professionals.
You can also ask family members and friends if they can refer an estate attorney they enjoyed working with.
Get a few names, then start researching! Once you have a list of recommended estate planning attorneys, you can check their websites for information about their approach and expertise. You can also look for client reviews online to get a sense of what it will be like to work with them.
Understand Your Attorney’s Pricing
Not all lawyers charge the same price! Consider your budget and look for a lawyer whose fees are a good fit for you. Ask your attorney what they would charge you and how you would be charged. If they are transparent and tell you what to expect upfront, you know you’ve found a good candidate to help with your plan.
Some estate planning law firms will offer a free consultation. Others will not. Before the first meeting, find out the attorney's policy.
Fee structures also vary. Estate planning law firms may bill you according to an hourly rate or a flat fee. Typically, attorneys that use a flat fee structure will include everything required to prepare your estate planning documents. Estate plans that use flat fees can range from $1000 to $2,500 for “simple” plans and up to $5,000 or more for “complex” plans. A flat fee offers the benefit of eliminating surprises, and it’s a popular billing policy.
For those that use an hourly rate fee structure, hourly rates can vary significantly. Many factors affect how high or low an attorney’s hourly rate will be, such as the size of the firm, the reputation of the lawyer, and the complexity of your estate. Usually, hourly fees can range from $250 to $700. You should ask about all the potential charges upfront before making your decision.
At the end of the day, one method isn’t necessarily better than the other. Instead, it’s about what suits your estate planning needs and which style you are most comfortable with.
Don’t Limit Your Search To Local Attorneys
In the past, people used to be limited to their own town or county when searching for an estate planning lawyer. Fortunately, technology gives you many more options! Though it is important that you hire an estate planning lawyer who is licensed to practice in your state, you should not limit your search only to local lawyers. Of all the factors you should be concerned about when searching for your estate planning attorney, geography should not be one of them. Estate planning law firms often have satellite offices or other methods in which you can meet with the qualified lawyer that is right for you.
Our law firm works with clients that are located everywhere in California, including San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Bay Area, and Sacramento.
What To Look For In An Estate Planning Attorney
You’ll know you’ve found the right attorney for you when they check three important boxes:
The amount you’ll spend depends on the complexity of your needs, but how much your estate plan will cost should not be a mystery. You should know exactly what your plan costs and what you’ll get for that price.
Proven Track Record and Experience.
Look for an attorney who is experienced with estates similar to yours. Experience is very important. Knowledge and specialized experience come with being informed about the laws of your state.
Work With Actual Attorneys You Will Like.
When looking for an estate planning attorney, you should look for a trustworthy attorney who puts you at ease. Ultimately, this person will be helping you make decisions that may be challenging and emotional. Many times, you'll have to share a great deal of personal information during your attorney client relationship, including your final wishes. If you are comfortable speaking with your attorney, the whole process will be much easier.
What the Right Attorney Can Do For You
Estate planning can seem challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right attorney, you can create a plan that gives you peace of mind and makes you feel confident about the future. Choose an estates attorney who is a good match for your needs, budget, and personality. You deserve to work with an estate planning attorney that will create a plan that’s best for you and make this process as easy as possible. Click here to learn how Clark Allison LLP can help you with your estate planning.