If a pertinent and well drafted estate plan is critical, then selecting the right attorney to draft is just as important. A good attorney ensures that your plan is appropriate for your assets and needs and complies with the most recent changes to the probate code and. He or she will do so without overwhelming you in jargon, unnecessary fees, and paperwork.
How do you find such an attorney? Here are three things to look for.
Seek a referral : Your estate planning attorney is someone that you will trust with confidential information. He or she will prepare legal documents that (hopefully) will not be tested for decades. Whether or not an attorney is competent and credible will be known to others in the industry. Your CPA and financial advisor are excellent places to start. They should have experience directing clients to attorneys, and will know whether a given attorney is worth his salt.
Your first meeting : Will there be a fee for the initial meeting to discuss your estate plan? Does the attorney charge a flat rate or by the hour? Will you be charged extra for calling in with questions? Most estate planning attorneys don’t charge for the initial meeting, and unless your situation is really complicated, should be able to quote you a ballpark price. Take the opportunity to get to know the attorney and to screen their level of competence and experience with situations similar to yours. Also, clarify the cost at this stage so that you are not surprised later. Most of the time you see a low price advertised, it’s simply a hook to draw you in with additional fees on the backside.
What kind of follow up will the firm provide? : Does the attorney have present or past trust administration and litigation experience? A good estate planning attorney will not only prepare the initial estate plan on the front end but will also administer it or defend it on the back end. Many attorneys only specialize in the front end, but have no actual experience with the practical workings of trust administration. Other attorneys treat estate planning as something secondary to their primary field. Experience with administering and litigating trusts is invaluable when it comes to drafting them. Will the attorney be around to answer questions and serve you in the future? Look for an attorney or firm that you can develop a long term relationship with. While you don’t want an attorney who is young and inexperienced, you also need to be aware that an attorney significantly older than yourself will almost certainly not be around to assist your family when the time comes.
The Law Offices of Quinton J. Miller is a general practice law firm with an emphasis on Estate Planning and serves clients throughout Sacramento and Northern California. We assist clients with estate and long term care planning, and small businesses with transition planning, litigation, and general business needs. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact us at (916) 714-1717 or visit our website at http://www.quintonlaw.com.