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Before Hiring Estate Planning Lawyers: 4 Questions To Ask

If you’ve thought of drafting a will, you likely have a lot of questions. Most people want to know if this is something they can do themselves, and while that answer is sometimes yes, it’s usually better to use the expertise of estate planning attorneys. How can someone just starting the process know which firm to hire, however? Before deciding which attorney to use, ask these questions.

How Long Has The Firm Been Working As Estate Attorneys?

When crafting a will and other documents, it’s a good idea to have a firm that’s experienced. Experienced estate planning lawyers will know which documents are required and can recommend others for your specific circumstances. Look for a firm with more than 10 years of experience and, if possible, look for attorneys who have been designated ‘Super Lawyers.’ These lawyers have received special recognition from their peers and have a reputation for being the best of the best.

Also ask how much business is brought in by estate attorneys. A firm made up mostly of estate planning lawyers will be a better choice than one that focuses primarily on other aspects of the law. It’s okay if the firm handles other types of cases, just check to make sure they have the necessary experience to help you with your documents.

How Much Does It Cost?

Some firms have a set price, while others charge by the hour. Before signing a contract, get written notice of the fees. Make sure it matches what you’ve been told so you don’t face surprises later on. If you’re only given an estimate, find out what happens if the total cost exceeds the estimate. Will you be notified ahead of time, or just billed unexpectedly? The cost can vary based on a number of factors, including how difficult the plan is, the experience of the lawyer and your geographical location.

Who Should Receive The Inheritance?

Most people have a good idea of whom they want to leave their inheritance to after they pass. If you have children and grandchildren, estate attorneys can help you determine how it’s best to divide your assets. They can make sure you’re aware of any situations that could cause your heirs to pay a greater percentage of tax, such as the generation skipping tax.

What Happens If The Will Is Contested?

This is one case in which using a lawyer works to your family’s advantage. After you pass, it’s possible for friends, relatives and business partners to contest your last wishes. If you’ve had your documents created by attorneys, the chances that your wishes aren’t carried out will be greatly diminished. If the will is still contested, your attorney can help your family member defend it in court or through negotiation.

Estate planning attorneys can be a vital resource when it comes time to determine your last requests. Although these are great questions to ask, they’re only a starting point. Make sure you’re comfortable with your lawyer and don’t forget to update your documents if you ever have a situation change that warrants an update.

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