Estate planning is for everyone. It’s a common misconception to think it’s only for the wealthy who have so many properties and assets to dispose of, upon their demise. It’s a prudent move for everyone to at least have an estate plan as this pertains to your directives when you die. You’re no longer there to speak for yourself, but your lawyer is with an estate plan to follow.
If you’re looking for an estate planning lawyer, it’s important for you to know that there are going to be many out there you can choose from. The increasing demand for estate and offshore trust lawyers has meant that more lawyers are also choosing to specialize in this field, but not all of them are equal. There are those who certainly stand out for good reasons while there are also those who are just so-so. The former should be your choice.
What makes a great estate planning lawyer? Here are some qualities to be on the lookout for:
Your lawyer should be accessible. This means you don’t have to travel far just to visit their firm. Also, they should have active and existing phone lines with a fast response time.
Estate planning, as a part of financial planning, is a serious matter. It can be stressful, too, just as is the case when you’re dealing with any other lawyer or legal matter. It’s an added plus to have a lawyer that’s easily accessible.
This factor is a matter of personal preference. Note that what one client considers as accessible is entirely different from what you may think as such. Think of your personal circumstances and situation, so you can factor that in.
2. Specialization In Estate Law
Any general lawyer can handle estate planning matters, but there are also those who took extra time and effort to specialize in estate planning. Because your goal is to wind up with the best, then it’s a plus to hire a lawyer who specializes in estate law.
When a lawyer has certifications to prove this specialization, it means they’ve got extra knowledge about estate law. This is the focus of their job, so they’re also updated with the latest changes, if any, to your local estate laws.
Most importantly, you have a higher assurance that they know what they’re doing. Estate lawyers deal with estate-related problems every day, so their skills are honed and polished.
3. Good Track Record
A reputable and quality estate lawyer is also one who has a good track record to back them up. With the Internet, it’s easy to go through a lawyer’s history. Are their clients satisfied with estate plans made smoothly and successfully? Or are there accounts of estate plans, which later on can’t be processed in court because of some illegalities?
Remember that estate plans are important to get right and accurately while you’re still alive. It’s the only way for you to have that guarantee that all your wishes will be followed. If not, when you die, your estate can’t serve its purpose, all because some matters of procedures were inaccurately followed.
4. Good Communication Skills
Another quality to be on the lookout for is the lawyer’s communication skills. This refers both to written and oral skills.
As to verbal communication, observe how the lawyer talks to you during those first few meetings. Do they take the time to explain to you the concepts well? Or do they seem to be in a rush? Is the lawyer able to explain the estate planning matters to you clearly in a way that’s comprehensible for you as a non-lawyer?
As to written communication, go through each draft of your estate plan that the lawyer will make for you. Read each point carefully, so you can assess the clarity of the document.
No matter how knowledgeable a lawyer is, it’ll only be futile if they aren’t able to communicate effectively what the legal implications of estate planning are.
5. Local Knowledge
It’s not enough to look for a lawyer who specializes in estate law. You have to go the extra mile to ensure that the lawyer is also well-equipped with the knowledge of your local estate laws. This fact is also the reason why it’s better to hire a local lawyer. Remember that laws can vary from one state to another, so local knowledge should be a non-negotiable factor.
A good real estate lawyer is one who has a long list of potential clients looking to hire their services. With estate plans, you’re dealing with your potential death. This is an event that’s certain to come—the only question is when. Hence, it’s never a wrong idea not to be proactive about your death. Especially when you have assets to give to your heirs, you want to be sure all those are given according to your wishes. A good estate planning lawyer is certainly an asset to have by your side.