Many people choose to delay estate planning because they’re unsure of what to expect, how much of their finances and family dynamics they must reveal and what changes will come with taking that first step. It’s not an overwhelming amount of time that’s involved, but it’s absolutely crucial both for ourselves and our families.
Not sure where to start in terms of finding the right estate planning attorney? It can seem like a shot in the dark, but there are a few factors that play a big role in finding the right advocate. Many prefer to speak with neighbors, co-workers or family members and those are often great recommendations, but conduct a bit of your own due diligence in the process. What might be right for you could be representation that none of your friends have mentioned. Your first best place to start is by exploring the organizations an attorney is involved with. This is because those who are part of an accredited group are also required to maintain ongoing educational compliance. This lets you know they’re always current in the ever-changing laws, especially those associated with taxes and other financial considerations.
A credible estate planning attorney is going to be interested in you, your family and those important elements that define your career. They will have questions, too. This is because the goal isn’t to create an estate plan that the lawyer would build for themselves, but rather, to ensure your needs are being met. You’ll discuss your how many children you have, any grandchildren, how many marriages you’ve had and other similar details. Prepare to discuss your assets, such as your retirement savings, your home, vacation homes and anything else that will be part of your overall estate. Be sure to discuss any loved ones who may have special needs. Perhaps a trust can put into place important financial protections for that loved one after you’re gone.
Remember that your lawyer’s goal is to protect you. Period. It defeats your purpose to withhold information as he or she is certainly your biggest ally who serve your needs with the information you provide. In fact, your lawyer will likely be able to help you with your estate planning goals in ways you didn’t know were possible.
Once those discussions have taken place, he or she will then draft the documents needed to complete your estate plan. A time estimate will likely be provided in terms of when they’ll be filed and another important turnaround considerations. Once you receive them, you will be requested to closely review them for accuracy and after revisions are made, you’ll sign the legal documents and they will become your collective estate plan.
Remember, ask questions. If you still have questions, ask them again. The lawyer’s goal is simple: to ensure his or her clients are well protected and are not left vulnerable. It’s a goal the two of you share. You should have a complete understanding of everything you discussed, the pros and cons of any decisions you need to make and a sense of satisfaction in knowing you’ve just partnered with a legal professional who is on your side and looking out for your best interests.