Insurance agent with a couple looking through documents. The agent is holding a digital tablet. The couple is casually dressed. They sitting at a table at home and are looking a little worried. Over the shoulder view.
Estate planning is a crucial component of preparing for your future. These legal documents address every aspect of your end-of-life requests, including your will, power of attorney, living will, and healthcare proxy. Without one, your loved ones may not handle your affairs according to your wishes.
To ensure that your estate plan includes every necessary detail of your end-of-life goals, you should hire a skilled, competent estate-planning attorney to walk you through the process. However, not every trust and estate attorney has the same training and experience—and choosing the wrong one could be costly.
Here are seven essential qualities to look for in an estate-planning attorney.
1. Focuses on Estate Planning
Estate planning is a complex task that requires a range of skills and knowledge. To demonstrate that they know the proper way to handle these plans and stay up to date on regional estate laws, New York attorneys can receive legal certification in probate, trust, and estate planning.
However, some lawyers that focus on other areas of law, such as divorce or personal injury, attempt to add estate planning to their skills list. These attorneys may try to create your estate plan by inputting information into automated software, but they rarely know the ins and outs of the process and can leave you with a weak, half-crafted plan.
To be sure that your attorney is up to the task, make sure they have received estate planning certification in New York and focus their practice in this area.
2. Has Skills in Relevant Areas
Estate planning includes a wide range of topics: tax preparation, Medicare planning, will development, property law, disability arrangements, and a slew of other subjects. The best trust attorneys have adequate knowledge to guide you through every aspect of your estate plan, especially if you have complex or unique needs.
If your attorney does not have training and expertise in every relevant topic, they will not provide you with the most knowledgeable and accurate plan.
3. Utilizes Modern Technology
Some estate planners have been using the same methods and tools for decades. While these attorneys may do their jobs well, they risk overlooking modern practices that could benefit you as a client.
New technology streamlines much of estate planners’ tasks, making the process easier for you, reducing the chances of human error, and enabling a more personal relationship between you and your estate planning attorney. Aside from taking the time to answer your questions and provide exceptional customer service, be sure that your trust attorney takes advantage of cutting-edge technology throughout the estate-planning process.
4. Works Quickly and Efficiently
Time is essential when creating an estate plan, especially if you are nearing the end of your life.
Most dedicated trust attorneys can prepare your first draft within a few weeks and finalize the plan in two months or less. Attorneys who require more than a few months may have too many clients on their hands, meaning they probably will not prioritize your case.
As you search for the right estate-planning attorney, be sure to ask how long it will take to prepare your plan. Your attorney should give you a reasonable estimate, and you can hold them accountable to this time frame throughout the drafting process.
5. Offers Flat Fees
Estate-planning attorneys should be fair and honest about every cost involved in creating your plan. Many estate planners charge a one-time, fixed price for all estate planning services, which gives you the peace of mind of knowing you can accomplish your objectives for an all-inclusive investment. If an attorney is transparent about overarching costs, you can generally trust that they will not throw in hidden fees down the road. Further, asking to sign a fee agreement can ensure that you are aware of every cost involved.
Beware of attorneys who charge hourly fees rather than flat rates—these planners may try to take advantage of your business by drawing out the planning process, ultimately costing you more money.
6. Guides You Through Every Step of the Process
Most clients who hire estate planners know little to nothing about the process—if they knew more, they could prepare all of the documentation themselves.
When you hire a quality probate attorney, they will guide you through every step of the process and explain each task in terms you can understand. You should feel that your estate attorney is willing to go above and beyond to help you feel confident and informed about your estate plan. Competent, experienced estate planning attorneys should guide you through the legal terminology in your estate planning documents to ensure all your wishes are clearly outlined – not simply hand a stack of papers to you and expect you to understand what’s in them.
7. Keeps in Touch Regularly
The day you receive final copies of your plan should not be the last time you hear from your estate attorney. The best trust attorneys reach out to their clients several years down the road to reassess their goals and make any relevant changes. They also inform clients of New York legislation changes that may affect their plans.
Your estate planner plays a valuable role in your life from when you hire them until years after your death, and reaching out is a small way to show that they remain invested in you until the end.
Contact a Committed Trust Attorney in Long Island
If you are looking for a will and trust lawyer in the East End of Long Island to help you through the estate-planning process, we can help.
Our committed law team has extensive certification in New York estate planning, and we tailor every estate plan to meet each client’s unique needs and desires. We’re committed to helping you create a comprehensive plan that allows you to feel confident in your end-of-life goals.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.