There’s probably no good time to begin estate planning, but it’s better to be prepared early for any eventuality. Estate planning would require being extra keen on details to ensure that your assets are managed properly. It’s also a legal assurance to protect your loved ones, as you would be certain that your beneficiaries will receive their inheritance according to your liking.
To execute your estate plan in the best possible way, you should find the most crucial legal representative for the job. For the prudent management of your assets, creating a will and living trust for multiple heirs, it’s best to consult an estate planning and probate lawyer.
However, since there are so many of these lawyers out there, one needs to be prepared during initial consultations before hiring one. The seven relevant questions below could help you in assessing their skills and capacity.
1) Are You Focusing Your Legal Practice On Estate Planning?
If the lawyer shows knowhow in preparing and executing the necessary tasks of managing the client’s assets in case something unfortunate happens, then this fact ensures that you will be dealing with an estate specialist. Thus, hearing a positive response from a potential lawyer would be a good start to consider their services.
Hiring such an attorney could help you draft a will or living trust while you’re still capable of doing so, and hiring specialized attorneys from firms like www.dallasprobatelaw.com will benefit you as they’re updated on changes in legal statutes.
2) What Are Your Key Duties And Responsibilities As A Trust-and-estate Lawyer?
Gauge the expertise of an estate planning and probate lawyer by asking this fundamental question. Generally, a trust-and-estate attorney helps maintain the orderly administration of all your assets flexibly while you’re still around.
Essentially, an estate lawyer could assist you in the following general areas or do these basic tasks:
- Gives sensible advice on how to preserve, examine, and consolidate all your financial assets and business-related assets, if there are any
- Helps lessen unavoidable legal expenses or varied types of taxes by closely examining situations that may affect your properties, businesses or assets
- Process your estate plan smoothly to be sure that your identified heirs receive the assets you’ll bequeath to them
- Assists in avoiding possible confusion and conflicts that may arise upon the execution of the will
- Knowledgeable in fiscally preparing you before any onset of debilitation by drawing up healthcare directives, living wills, and specific powers of attorney
3) Have You Executed An Estate Plan Before?
Sometimes, a lawyer who does estate planning may not necessarily be the one to act as a probate attorney that helps in executing the trust or will. Thus, choose a lawyer who can draw up all estate-planning documents and execute the trusts at the same time to ensure that your assets will be transferred into the trust correctly. Also, it’s one way to ensure that all estate planning strategies are in your best interest.
4) What’s Your Average Duration Of Completing An Estate Plan?
Time is a crucial element in estate planning, yet you want to ensure that your will and testament won’t be rushed, either. Thus, it’s pertinent to ask a lawyer if their approach to estate planning also includes leading you or letting you discuss certain aspects with an accountant or tax expert, investment advisor, retirement planner, or money manager for in-depth review and collaboration. By doing so, you’ll have a broader picture of how long your estate plan would take. An experienced lawyer will have a general idea of this timeline.
5) How Many Years Have You Been Doing Estate Planning?
Working with the most experienced estate planning and probate lawyer is highly beneficial since the legalities of estate law can be so complex. Hiring an inexperienced lawyer might only compromise your assets, while an experienced lawyer knows how to overcome such hurdles.
6) Can You Carry Out Annual Periodic Reviews?
Find a trust-and-estate lawyer who can conduct a semi-annual or annual review of your affairs so that you can make necessary adjustments to your estate plan when necessary. Any significant change in your finances or life circumstances could directly affect your estate, so the lawyer should be flexible enough to jump in when such a need arises. Your chosen attorney should also be adept at updating you with new legislative amendments that could have significant effects on your estate plan as well.
7) What Are The Applicable Charges When Availing Of Your Services?
The cost of estate planning varies, and attorney’s fees are usually not listed on their websites. Many trust-and-estate lawyers charge flat fees while some bill per hour. For instance, fixed rates usually apply for standard services such as establishing a trust (USD$300 to $1,200), and an hourly rate applies for special research tasks. The hourly billing rate in rural areas is usually USD$150 per hour.
Inquiring about compensation models will help avoid unexpected charges and other surprises in the future. Being transparent by getting a straightforward answer as to how the estate lawyer wants to get billed is also an excellent way to assess professionalism on their end.
By asking direct questions to your prospective estate planning and probate lawyer, not only are you able to gauge their expertise and experience, but you’re also assessing your comfort level of working with them. After all, making this good decision is crucial as you’re looking into another person to entrust the legal aspects of your asset management, drawing your will, and estate planning execution.