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How to Find an Estate Attorney: A Guide

Looking for an estate planning attorney and not sure how to start your search? Use our guide to find an estate planning attorney that suits your needs.

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Patrick Hicks, @PatrickHicks

Head of Legal, Trust & Will

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Finding the right Estate Planning attorney can seem like an overwhelming task. You may even be tempted to put off dealing with your estate plan all together. But we’re here to tell you - don’t let that happen! Estate Planning is a critical part of preparing for your future. More importantly, it’s essential for the future of your loved ones. 

Still, we know it can feel daunting to take on - what should you be looking for in an Estate Planning attorney? How do you know who to trust? Where do you even start to look for a qualified attorney? Do you even really need an attorney anyway? 

Let’s look at all these issues and more. Because you want to feel confident that you truly understand how to find an estate attorney

What is an Estate Planning Attorney?

Estate Planning attorneys are licensed legal professionals who have a clear and thorough understanding of federal and individual state laws surrounding everything having to do with an estate. Also known as probate attorneys or estate law attorneys, they can ensure that you have everything covered when it comes to how your estate will be valued, inventoried, distributed and taxed after your death. 

Estate Planning attorneys also help clients understand the dreaded probate process, and they can advise on tax-beneficial plans that pay both now, and in the future. If you’re wondering how to set up your estate the most effective, protective, solid way possible, finding an estate planning attorney may be a wise choice.  

What Does an Estate Planning Attorney Do?

Estate Planning attorneys do more than just help you write your estate plan. They can also be retained to help navigate Power of Attorney (POA) situations, and they often advise on the best ways to set up estate plans to make things as easy as possible on loved ones dealing with a decedent’s (someone who’s passed away) estate. Wondering what types of tasks an Estate Planning attorney may be helpful for? They can help you with:

  • Writing Wills

  • Setting up Trusts

  • Protecting assets and estates from creditors

  • Setting up guardianship

  • Advising on tax-beneficial plans

  • Helping designate beneficiaries

  • Creating plans that will reduce the complexity of (or avoid altogether) probate

  • Establishing Durable Power of Attorney

  • Establishing Medical Power of Attorney

  • And more...

5 Tips for Choosing an Estate Planning Attorney

Now that you understand what, exactly, an Estate Planning attorney is, you may be wondering how to find an Estate Planning attorney who’s right for you, your situation and your estate. You can find the perfect attorney for all your needs by following five simple steps. 

1. Make a list of your specific needs

Before you even begin trying to find an Estate Planning attorney, it’s important that you understand your needs. First, simply make a list of your specific goals for your estate plan. Knowing what your endgame is means it’ll be easier to find someone who can help. Do you need:

  • To write your entire plan from scratch? 

  • To revise or update an existing plan?

  • To complete a specific aspect of your plan, such as designate beneficiaries or set up guardianship? 

  • Help or advice on how to reduce or eliminate future tax liabilities for your estate and/or beneficiaries? 

  • To set up and fund a Trust? 

  • Anything else?  

2. Ask friends and family

When it comes to finding an Estate Planning attorney, recommendations can be worth their weight in gold. A trusted attorney can give you peace of mind. You may feel better if you know that another family member or close friend who shares your values and goals in life has already used someone who gets what’s important to you.

Use your network to help you create a shortlist of attorneys who may be a good fit. Family, coworkers, friends, neighbors - anyone in your life who’s responsible, proactive and you trust can be a valuable source of information when it comes to a referral.    

3. Search locally

With the age of the internet, you may be tempted to just do a quick search and use the first attorney you find, regardless of where he or she may be located. And while for some services, this is a fine approach, when it comes to estate law, finding an attorney who’s licensed in your state and well-versed in individual state law where you live is crucial. 

Laws surrounding Estate Planning will vary from state to state, so it’s really important that you can trust your lawyer is up-to-date with state-specific legal implications of estate law where you live. This is the best way to ensure that everything is addressed in your plan so you (and your loved ones in the future) can avoid legal headaches and hassles. 

4. Take time to interview your prospects 

Like most important things in life, rarely will you hire with the first name you find - at least not without doing your due diligence and really getting to know someone. The best way to ensure you select the right attorney is to just interview the people on your list. The interview process needn't be lengthy, nor complicated. 

A quick list of questions should help determine if you’ll feel comfortable with an attorney and be able to trust him or her to advise you in the best possible way. 

Potential interview questions to ask Estate Planning attorney candidates:

  • Where did you get your law degree? 

  • How long have you been in practice?

  • How should we communicate? 

  • How can I get in touch with you?

  • Who will be my point of contact at your office? 

  • How will I receive updates regarding my plan? Should I take the initiative, or will you (or someone at your office) provide me with regular feedback?

  • What are your fees and rates? Do you charge a flat fee or hourly? 

  • Are there any additional charges I should expect that are outside your rate? 

  • What, if any, certifications do you hold? 

5. Use online Estate Planning services instead

Finally, it’s important to note that you don’t actually have to go the traditional route of using an Estate Planning attorney. Today, you can choose to use a valid, trusted online Estate Planning service that allows you to create a comprehensive plan that covers all your Estate Planning needs. You really can create an excellent estate plan online - and with the peace of mind that you have a plan in place that protects you and your legacy. 

Trust & Will is the industry leader in online Estate Planning. Every state-specific plan and service we offer is designed, created and reviewed by lawyers and Estate Planning experts. We’re passionate about making Estate Planning accessible to everyone.  

Find the Right Estate Planning Attorney for You

Creating your estate plan is one of the most important things you’ll do in life. Finding the right Estate Planning attorney can help you do it. Your estate plan protects you. It helps ensure that your loved ones will have the comfort of knowing you cared enough to prepare for their future. 

We believe your legacy is important - that’s why we offer Estate Planning attorney services for those who want that little bit of extra assurance. There’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve done everything you can to create the perfect estate plan.      

Conclusion 

Estate Planning can seem hard. But it doesn’t have to be. With the right information - like knowing how to find an Estate Planning attorney you trust - you can have a plan in place that you’re confident in. 

Is there a question here we didn’t answer? Reach out to us today or Chat with a live member support representative!

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