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What Every Client Should Know Before Meeting with an Estate Planning Law Firm

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According to a 2023 survey, 58% of Americans have experienced disputes personally or know of conflicts others have had over a lack of estate planning. Some have found that rather than being distributed according to their late loved one’s wishes, their assets fall under the control of the courts. However, these stressful situations can be avoided with good estate planning.

Meeting with an estate planning law firm is an essential first step in getting your affairs in order. But what do you need to know before you meet? What steps can you take to help the attorney protect your interests?

Let’s explore the answer together.

Find the Right Estate Planning Law Firm

As we learned from Aretha Franklin, a little professional help goes a long way. Years of legal wrangling followed her demise, all because of a lack of professional estate planning. However, this doesn’t mean that you should just work with the first estate planning law firm you find.

Recommendations and Reviews

Recommendations from friends and family are a great place to start. Online reviews can be helpful, but remember that they are not always reliable. Look for high-quality testimonials from people in a position similar to your own.

Also, when you start making inquiries, don’t be afraid to ask about costs. Many people put off estate planning because of fear of costs, which is probably a fear of the unknown. Reputable estate planning law firms will be upfront and transparent about their fees.

How Long Have They Practiced Estate Law?

Estate planning is complex, and in the wrong hands, it can be fraught with difficulties. That’s why it’s essential to find out how long the estate planning law firm you are thinking of hiring has been in business. This is not a time to take a chance on an upcoming firm–you need a firm you can trust.

Additionally, experienced firms are more likely to keep abreast of changes to the law and know how to navigate these. For example, the tax bill Donald Trump signed into law in 2017 has had a big impact on estate planning. However, some of its provisions expire at the end of 2025.

Is your attorney familiar with these and other laws? Can they take advantage of them? Protect your assets by looking for a firm that specializes in this area of law and has done so for a considerable period of time.

Do They Solely Focus on Estate Law?

It is also worth asking the law firm what percentage of their practice focuses on probate, wills and trusts, and estate planning law. You don’t want to work with a firm that does a little estate law on the side but mainly specializes in other areas.

This is because they may not be aware of all of the legal provisions for reducing your tax burden when passing your estate on to your heirs. Thorny issues like second marriages and protecting your children require the knowledge, skills, and discretion of experienced estate law specialists. Ideally, choose a firm that focuses solely on estate planning.

The Cost of Estate Planning

One reason people put off estate planning is because of fear of how much it will cost. However, the alternative to paying for an estate plan now is paying court costs from your estate. The court will appoint a guardian for your children and someone to distribute your assets.

The person the court appoints may be someone you would never have chosen. Also, they will divide your assets according to what they think is best, not in accordance with your wishes. The takeaway is that it is much better to find out the cost of estate planning now and budget for it rather than lose control after your death.

Discuss Costs Upfront

A trustworthy estate planning law firm will be upfront about costs from your first discussions onward. If they provide flat fee services, they will give you a written fee agreement that outlines exactly what is included. This means there will be no unpleasant surprises down the line.

If your estate is more complex, they are more likely to work at an hourly rate. If they do, you will usually have to pay a retainer. This will pay for onboarding and go towards your final bill.

Make Sure You’re Comfortable

From your first contact with an estate planning law firm, you will get a sense of how friendly and professional they are. In effect, you are entrusting them with protecting your children and your assets, so it is vital that you feel comfortable when working with them.

Try to assess how knowledgeable and interested the attorney is. Do they listen carefully to try to ascertain exactly what you want? If they hedge questions, are vague, or have to research basic points, this is a warning sign.

It’s also vital that they put you at ease and are easy to talk to. After all, you need to open up about confidential matters, so it’s crucial that you have confidence in them.

Now You’re Ready to Meet Your Attorney

Follow the tips above, and you’ll be ready to make the most of your first meeting with an estate planning law firm. Many attorneys are vying for your business, but here’s why Rhodes Law Firm, PC, is the right choice.

We are dedicated solely to elder care law, including estate planning. We have honed our skills and expertise through more than 40 years of helping our clients organize their affairs. We want to help you prepare your estate to benefit your loved ones so you can get on with enjoying your life.

Contact us to talk to an experienced estate planning attorney today!

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