Many of us have certainly pondered aspects of what will happen after we die. As humans it’s natural to consider the impact our passing will have on those around us. Unfortunately, the process of documenting our wishes can be a difficult one to address, and all too often is neglected until we’re faced with the unfortunate reality of old age or illness.
Fortunately, there are qualified estate lawyers who can assist in ensuring that the dispersal of assets and implementation of wishes are taken care of after death by helping to craft a legal will and/or trust. These documents serve to outline our wishes and ease the burden on those we leave behind. As such, it’s important to know that the individuals entrusted with helping to prepare these documents are well qualified and have their clients’ best interests in mind. Here are 5 important questions to ask of perspective estate lawyers.
What Is Your Background In Estate Planning?
Experience is often the key to establishing the estate lawyers who are best suited to handling complicated matters involving asset allocation and trusts. While some lawyers practicing more general law may be able to draw up a basic will document without much trouble, in cases where there are sensitive family matters to address or large amounts of property and taxable assets to be allocated, a more specialized attorney who regularly deals with this type of planning should be utilized.
Have You Handled Cases Like Mine Before?
In addition to experience in the field of estate planning, an attorney who has dealt with similar cases to yours will have the best perspective on the details and documents associated with your needs. In many cases a lawyer may be able to provide a listing of cases they’ve worked on in the past that can help you determine if they’ll be a good fit for your planning requirements.
How Long Have You Been Doing This?
An attorney who has been practicing law for many years may not necessarily be a better choice than one who is new to the industry, but experience does offer certain advantages. For one, estates planning involves a multitude of forms and documents. Long-standing firms have had the opportunity to make edits and adjustments to the forms they use to make them as efficient and effective as possible for their clients.
What Is Your Fee Structure?
Will you be charged a flat fee for all services rendered or will you be billed for every hour your attorney spends on your case? What does the fee include? Are there exceptions? Will you be notified of any services that may incur an additional charge? When is payment due and how should it be paid? These are all important questions to address before entering into any relationship with a law firm and all reputable estate lawyers will be happy to answer any billing questions up front.
Ask Estate Lawyers: Do We Make A Good Team?
The final qualification may be the most difficult to judge. Planning for the future and establishing the measures that will be taken after one’s death is a very personal and intimate experience. Your estate lawyer will need to know a huge amount about your life and the more comfortable you are in sharing those details the more effectively they can do their job. If you are uncomfortable at any stage of the process it may be difficult to make your wishes clear.
To fully explore the answers to all of the questions above, it’s vital to schedule an in-depth meeting with any estate attorney you are considering hiring. Only after you’ve received satisfactory answers can you be assured that your affairs will be handled with the professionalism they deserve.