16th Aug 2016

Suze Orman, an author and personal finance guru once said, “Estate planning is an important and everlasting gift you can give your family. And setting up a smooth inheritance isn’t as hard as you might think.” As important as it is to properly plan, it is equally as important to work with an estate planning attorney who understands your personal needs and is committed to accomplishing your goals and objectives.

Your estate planning attorney is a bar certified lawyer who is responsible for assisting you in the creation and implementation of legal documents including wills and trusts. Your estate planning attorney will also be responsible for asking you some tough questions regarding your family, personal finances and health. You want to select an estate planning attorney who will make you feel comfortable throughout the planning process while providing the necessary guidance and assistance to coordinate your plan.

Since changes in life often occur, you will want to work with an estate planning attorney who is flexible and easily available to make amendments and updates to your estate plan. Finally, you will want an estate planning attorney who is timely, professional and affordable. In order to find the right estate planning attorney, consider interviewing several professionals and asking the following questions.

  1. What is your primary focus?

Some attorneys focus primarily on estate planning whereas others are more general attorneys who also help clients with their estates. Depending on your situation, this is an important question to ask. If you need a basic will, power of attorney or power of healthcare, you may not need an estate planning attorney. An attorney with a broad practice may be able to assist you with one of these documents.

However, if you have a complicated family dynamic, complex financial situation or a taxable estate, it is best to work with someone whose primary focus is on estate planning. Attorneys who focus predominantly on estate planning can help you with living trusts as well as pet trusts, powers of attorney, business planning, prenuptial agreements, special needs planning and other special topics.

  1. How many years of experience do you have?

When it comes to estate planning, experience is key. Often times, if an estate planning attorney has several years of experience they have both established and executed estate plans for their clients. They are not only familiar with the documents within the estate plan, they have created, amended, revised and tweaked the estate plans for a diverse range of clients. You will have peace of mind knowing your estate planning attorney is experienced and reliable.

  1. What is your process for creating an estate plan?

It is essential that your estate planning attorney has a process in place to create your estate plan. Your estate plan is designed to protect what is important to you so the first step should always be meeting with you to understand who and what you value. Your estate planning attorney should set aside time to get to know you so they can personally design your estate plan. Next, they should provide the guidance and assistance to coordinate your assets with your plan. They should do so in a timely, professional and affordable manner.

Your estate plan includes making a will, considering a trust, providing health care directives, assigning a power of attorney and understanding estate taxes. Be sure your estate planning attorney has a process in place for creating a complete, bulletproof estate plan.

  1. What is the process for maintaining, updating and managing the estate plan?

It is important to review your estate planning documents including your living trusts, will, power of attorney and other documents at least once a year. Many estate planning attorneys will offer this service to their clients. Be sure you understand if your estate planning attorney offers this service and if so, the cost associated with it.

It is also important to ask about amending your trust. The circumstances that led you to create your estate plan often change due to family and financial changes such as births, deaths, marriages, divorces, bankruptcies, inheritances, changes in family relationships and the purchase or sale of real estate. Change is a necessary part of life and it is important that your estate plan keep pace with those changes. Be sure to ask your potential estate planning attorney their process for amending your trust.

  1. Ask: “Can I work with this attorney?”

After you meet with the estate attorney, ask you: “Can I work with this individual?” You will be not only be spending time with your estate planning attorney, you will be disclosing important personal and financial information. It is imperative that you can actually picture yourself having these discussions with the lawyer you choose. Select a reliable, trustworthy lawyer who make you feel comfortable throughout the process.

As previously mentioned, estate planning can be a difficult topic to discuss. However, just as you pay a professional to mow your lawn, style your hair or file your tax returns, you should consider paying a lawyer to help you plan your estate. The early stages of planning are critical so if this is something you have been considering, start now.

As a solo practicing attorney with over 25 years of experience, my career has been dedicated to working directly with my clients to provide an affordable, cost-effective approach to solving their planning needs. After working with me as their California estate planning attorney, clients understand the process fully and are equipped to make the best decisions for themselves and their family.

Protect your rights and assets by calling the California estate planning attorney you need directly at 1-714-385-0044 to schedule a consultation or email me.

 

 

 

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