Estate planning is a natural reaction to growing older and considering your long-term future. It’s also a good idea if you have money you want to keep out of taxes or leave to others after you die. There are numerous ways to plan for the future, but an estate planning attorney can assist you by helping you develop a strategy and putting it into action when the time comes. Estate planning attorneys, also known as probate attorneys, can help you create legal documents that cover your assets, beneficiaries, and any trusts or wills you want to put in place.
Ask for Recommendations From Friends and Family
When looking for an estate planning attorney, this may be the most obvious place to start, especially if you have a lot of wealth to protect. Your family and friends may have been through a similar process and may have useful suggestions. If you find someone through a recommendation, ask if they’d be willing to speak with you about their experience with the attorney and if they have any specific advice for you. This can help you narrow your options even more.
Hire a Lawyer Who Specializes in Florida Estate Planning
As a Florida resident, you should look for an attorney who specializes in estate planning and trust administration, preferably within the state of Florida. Some attorneys provide a wide range of legal services and can assist with all aspects of estate planning. Other attorneys focus solely on one aspect of estate planning, such as wills or trusts.
Focusing on a Florida estate planning attorney will give you a better idea of any experience they have in this area of practice and can help you find someone who fits your specific needs.
Check the Better Business Bureau
In general, the Better Business Bureau is an excellent resource for locating reputable service providers. You can check an estate planning attorney’s rating with the BBB and learn about any complaints lodged against them. If they do, you can read what previous clients have to say about the attorney’s services. You can also learn about the attorney’s legal services and whether or not estates and trusts are a major focus for them. This will give you a good idea of any problems you may have with the attorney and will help you avoid becoming one of those statistics.
Ask About the Attorney’s Experience in Probate Administration
While it is important to understand an attorney’s general experience, Probate administration can be a complicated subject, especially when you consider the various types of trusts and wills and all the different things that can be included in each document.
As a result, you should make certain that your attorney has some experience with the specific types of trusts and wills you intend to implement. Look for someone who knows which trusts and wills are appropriate for your situation and which are best for different families.
This can help you find an attorney who is already familiar with your situation and understands your long-term goals. It can also assist you in narrowing down your options when deciding on which attorney to hire.
Ask About Implementation Costs and Retainers
Before you commit to hiring an estate planning attorney, make sure you understand the costs.
Depending on your specific situation, you can usually negotiate down the costs or get a better idea of what they will be. You may also be able to work out a fee agreement with the attorney in which they are paid as different stages of the process are completed.
This can help you save money up front and allow you to decide how much you are willing to spend based on the work done.
Some estate planning attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means they are only paid when the work is completed. Others, on the other hand, use a retainer-based system. This means you’ll have to pay a one-time flat fee for all costs and fees, which can add up quickly if you don’t shop around for the best deal.
Ask About Confidentiality and Conflicts of Interest
Confidentiality is essential in any legal situation, but it is especially critical in estate planning. You don’t want your heirs to learn about your plans before you die. It is also critical to ensure that your attorney does not have any conflicts of interest.
For example, if an attorney’s family members are your heirs, that attorney may have a conflict of interest, and you should seek assistance from someone else. So, make sure you understand the attorney’s client confidentiality policy and find out if any people you intend to name in your will have any objections to being included. This can help you avoid future problems.
Meet Your Ideal Hire In-person
Once you’ve narrowed down your options and identified a couple of estate planning attorneys you’d like to work with, you should meet with them in person before signing any contracts or paying any retainers. You want to make sure that this attorney is right for you, and vice versa.
The initial meeting should be in their office, and the attorney should be available to answer any questions you may have. The attorney should also explain how the process works and give you a time estimate for completing your documents.
This can help you narrow down your options even further and determine which attorney is the best fit for you.
Contact Estate Planning Attorney and Probate Attorney, Marshall McDonald
Your first thought about estate planning may be that it is something only the elderly need to consider. However, the truth is that everyone should have an estate plan in place to help protect assets after death. It also benefits those you care about the most after your time on this planet is over. Having said that, quality legal representation is critical in estate planning. The wrong lawyer—or even a nonlegal advisor—may not have your best interests at heart and may lead you astray.
An estate planning attorney, such as Marshall McDonald, can assist you in transferring your assets in the most tax-efficient manner possible, reducing potential inheritance tax exposure, planning for unexpected end-of-life circumstances, and more. We can assist you in establishing the necessary documents and trusts to ensure that your wishes are carried out as you see fit. For a consultation, get in touch with McDonald Law Firm today.