Last week I wrote about how to find an estate planning attorney, but once you've found one, how will you know if he or she will be the right one for you? Here are six questions to ask:
- Is the attorney's primary focus on estate planning? Depending on the type of advice you're seeking, you may only need a general legal practitioner instead of a seasoned estate planning veteran.
- How many years of experience does the attorney have? Estate planning documents prepared by a veteran attorney have withstood the tests of time.
- Does the attorney assist clients with properly funding their assets into a revocable living trust? If not, then be fully prepared to take on this task yourself, otherwise your estate plan won't work the way you expect it to work.
- Does the attorney have a formal updating and maintenance program? Putting your initial estate plan together is only part of the process. As time goes by your estate plan will need to be reviewed, tweaked, and possibly overhauled as your personal and financial circumstances change.
- Does the attorney charge a flat fee or an hourly rate for providing estate planning and other services? Understanding how legal fees will be charged is one of the keys to being comfortable working with any attorney.
- Ask yourself: "Can I see myself working closely with this attorney?" Even if the prospective attorney answers all of the other questions to your satisfaction, this is the most important question that you need to ask yourself. If you aren't comfortable with the attorney, then chances are you won't be happy with the attorney's work. But don't be alarmed - it's better determine this sooner rather than later. Simply move on until you find an attorney who you feel comfortable enough to trust with your personal and financial information.