Estate planning is an integral part of financial planning. However, many Americans find it difficult due to procrastination and lack of financial knowledge. Creating a power of attorney or a will, drafting a trust, and minimizing taxes are essential tasks under estate planning.
You can avoid legal disputes even after your death with proper planning. Estate planners take preventive steps by adjusting your plans according to your circumstances.
But before hiring an estate attorney, you must know what an estate planning attorney does and how to choose one.
Roles and responsibilities of Estate law attorneys
Estate attorneys are legal professionals with valid licenses to practice law in a particular state. They clearly understand state and federal laws that affect an estate. Proper valuation and equitable distribution of your property among the successors is their primary job. They help a client understand tax-beneficial plans and the probate process. Their main tasks are
- Drafting a Power of Attorney(POA)
- Planning for a simple probate
- Setting up guardianship and trusts
- Suggesting tax-saving plans
- Establishing wills
- Protecting assets from creditors
Seven tips for choosing the best estate planning attorney
Don’t search in your area only.
If you search in your area only, you will only find limited options. A law firm that deals with estates and trusts have offices globally. They are reputed and trustworthy. Instead of searching geographically, go for a company that operates in different states.
An Attorney can refer You.
A renowned financial advisor or an estate planning attorney has contacts worldwide. They will guide you better in finding an expert in your area.
Careful about online Directories
Internet directories promise to get you a suitable lawyer but fail to deliver. Hence, it would be better to research only through verified third-party websites that only rank and list qualified attorneys. There are chances of fraud and involvement of fraudulent activities in these types of websites.
Specialization in Estate Planning
People often go to a dentist for dental problems instead of a medical specialist. Similarly, many attorneys promise they will take care of your estate planning. However, they are not specialized in that niche. A real estate attorney knows all the laws and practices in your area. As a result, they can identify problems better and suggest solutions accordingly. E.g., creditors always find a way to claim on the estate. But a law attorney with a well-crafted plan can keep them at bay.
Do Check Attorney’s work
It is not a mandatory criterion. However, if an attorney has published books or articles in their name, they must have in-depth theoretical knowledge. Also, from the works, you will get to know their qualifications.
The attorney must not carry an illegal license.
The accountability of a probate attorney can be identified from the insurance policy and license. Before hiring an estate lawyer, check whether they have malpractice insurance.
Check the Professional and educational background.
Check both the academic and professional background of the attorney. Yes, degrees matter. The law school ranking system consists of four tiers. Tier I is undoubtedly the best and hard to get into. If an attorney attended a top-tier Law school, they must have practiced high-level cases during internship or training.
And the second question is about their association with professional organizations. Association with organizations like Wealthcounsel allows comprehensive knowledge of the latest estate planning and networking with peers. In addition, this membership makes them updated with recent laws and techniques.
Estate planning is complex unless you find a suitable attorney matching your criteria. However, with the information discussed above, finding an estate attorney won’t be an overwhelming task anymore.