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7 Essential Questions to Ask Your Lawyer for Wills and Trusts

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67% of Americans do not have a will or living trust. Life gets in the way, and many of them simply never had the time to get around to it. Estate planning can feel like a grim discussion, but it can also be a final message of love and a heartfelt goodbye.

The decisions you make can ensure your loved ones will be taken care of even after your passing. Unfortunately, the process of making these decisions is a daunting one. Aside from dividing your assets, you also have to take your insurance and liability into consideration.

That’s why it’s essential to work with the right lawyer for wills and trusts. This article covers seven essential questions you should ask an estate planning lawyer. Read on to learn more.

1. How Long Has the Attorney Been Practicing in the Areas of Probate, Trusts, & Estate Planning Law?

When searching for a lawyer for wills and trusts, you want someone who has been around the block. A lawyer who has worked in probate, trusts, and estate planning cases should be able to handle your needs.

A seasoned lawyer understands estate planning and can offer wise legal advice for wills. They can also help you anticipate and solve issues that arise.

Look for an attorney with several years of experience in probate and estate planning. The more time they have spent specializing in this area, the better they can manage your case.

2. What Percentage of the Attorney’s Practice Is Devoted to Probate, Trusts, & Estate Planning Law?

When writing a will, your attorney should be well-versed in estate planning laws. You wouldn’t go to a general practitioner for heart surgery. Why settle for a general lawyer when dealing with your estate?

If an attorney spends the majority of their time working on probate, trust, and estate planning cases, it means they are likely well-versed in the current laws and best practices in this field.

Aim for a trust and estate lawyer who dedicates at least 50% of their practice to estate planning. The higher the percentage, the more focused and knowledgeable they are likely to be. Also, make sure these lawyers can give you practical and valuable estate planning tips throughout your contract.

3. How Much Should You Pay for Your Estate Plan?

Understanding the cost ahead of time can help you budget and avoid surprises. Estate planning fees can vary depending on the complexity of your situation and the attorney’s experience.

It’s essential to get a clear idea of the costs involved so you can compare different services. Some estate planning lawyers charge a fixed fee, while others may bill hourly.

Ask for a detailed breakdown of costs. Knowing the cost upfront allows you to budget and avoid any surprises later on. Your lawyer should give a clear breakdown of their fees and what services are in your contract.

4. Will the Attorney Provide a Written Fee Agreement?

Written fee agreements are responsible for outlining the fees you’ll pay. It also specifies the services that it covers in the attorney-client contract.

Having everything in writing protects you and ensures there are no misunderstandings about the scope of the services or the cost. It also demonstrates the attorney’s professionalism and transparency.

Make sure your attorney gives you a clear, written fee agreement before starting any work. Having everything documented ensures clarity and prevents misunderstandings down the road. If the attorney hesitates or declines to provide this, see it as a warning sign.

5. Does the Attorney Require a Retainer?

Retainers are upfront fees that a lawyer for wills and trusts may need to secure their services. It acts as a down payment for future legal work.

Understanding if you need a retainer and how it affects your costs can help you manage your finances better. It also gives you an idea of the attorney’s billing practices.

Ask whether you can get a refund for the retainer if you decide not to proceed with the lawyer’s services. An estate planning attorney should be capable of explaining their retainer policy to their clients.

6. Does the Attorney Appear Knowledgeable and Interested in Your Situation?

Your estate plan is a personal matter. You want an attorney who is not only knowledgeable but also has a genuine interest in your case.

An engaged attorney is more likely to provide personalized advice and work diligently on your behalf. Their interest in your situation can show their commitment to helping you achieve your goals.

Pay attention to how your estate planning attorney listens and responds to your questions. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney will ask insightful questions about your situation. They should be able to provide detailed, understandable explanations.

7. Is the Attorney Friendly and Easy to Talk To? Does His/Her Manner Put You at Ease or Does It Make You Uncomfortable?

The attorney-client relationship relies on building trust and communication. You need to feel comfortable discussing your personal and financial matters openly.

If you’re uncomfortable or feel that the attorney is dismissive, it could hinder effective communication and the planning process. You want someone who puts you at ease and makes you feel confident in their abilities.

Choose an estate planning attorney who is approachable and empathetic. Their manner should be professional yet friendly, making you feel heard and respected.

Find the Right Lawyer for Wills and Trusts Today

Selecting the right lawyer for wills and trusts is important for creating a solid estate plan that secures your loved one’s future. These essential questions will help you find a knowledgeable and trustworthy estate planning attorney. Take your time, do your research, and choose your attorneys wisely.

There is no such thing as too soon when it comes to protecting your legacy. Rhodes Law Firm specializes in comprehensive estate planning tailored to your needs. From wills and trusts to durable power of attorney, probate, and planning for second marriages and your children’s future, the expert guidance of our qualified attorneys is here for you.

Contact us today for a consultation and let us help you secure peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

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