Questions for the Estate Planning Attorney

Please tell me about your experience as an estate planning attorney or Of all the areas of law, why did you select estate planning?

You’re listening for any mentoring received, any other areas of law, what this individual enjoys about the work, and if the attorney has had experience with litigation and trust administration. Attorneys who have had this kind of experience are often better planners. You’re also listening for the way this attorney communicates. Don’t feel the chemistry? Interview a few attorneys, before you select one.

Do you have a succession plan?

So important, as you want to develop a reliable relationship. Your situation, and the needs of your loved ones, will change over time. You need to know that this attorney has planned for the future.

I don’t know what I don’t know. What does the estate planning process look like, and what will you need from me?

Typically, you will be asked to provide information about your assets (I will give you some coaching on how to do this below), so that a determination can be made as to what kind of plan you need. If you are renter, and the most valuable thing you own is your car, it is likely that you may need a Will, Durable Power of Attorney, and an Advance Health Care Directive. If you own your own home, and/or your own business, you will likely need a Trust, in addition to the documents I listed.

Please tell your attorney everything. If assets or family issues are left out, the Trust may not work the way you intended, causing more issues later than solving them.

When my documents are done, when will I need to come back to get them updated, and what will you charge for updates?

This is a relationship builder question. It is likely that you will pay more upfront for your initial plan, then pay a smaller sum when returning to the same attorney every few years, depending on the kind of update you need. Your life might not change much in five years, but that’s plenty of time for legislation and new court cases to change the law on which your document is based. Here is my suggested update schedule:

30 to 60 years old, every five years

60 to 80 years old, every three to five years

80+ years old, every other year

Talk with your attorney about your specific situation, as there may be events coming up, at which time it would make sense to update your documents; Any births or deaths in the family, or any marriages or divorces; The sale or purchase of a business, or property, etc.

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