The death of a close family member is always painful, no matter how old that person is. After you have done the funeral and spent a few days mourning and getting used to the fact that the person is no longer there, you will also have to deal with certain paperwork in case you are listed as the heir to the property in the will. What you will need in this case is a reliable estate planning attorney.
What Is an Estate Planning Attorney?
As the name suggests, it is a lawyer who specializes in dealing with real estate planning. Although the range of jobs they perform is wide, the focus of real estate planning lawyers is on helping clients prepare for the end of life and passing on the inheritance to a particular person. So, if you need help writing a will, a real estate planning lawyer is here to help you. In addition, their job is to help you reduce property and inheritance taxes, as well as prepare you for life scenarios when you will not be able to make decisions on your own and you will need to authorize someone to do so. A good real estate planning lawyer can serve as a legal guide through all aspects of end-of-life preparation.
There are many lawyers today who specialize in this area, but to make sure you get a good and reliable one, pay attention to the following things.
Ask for a recommendation
If you do not know someone you could hire, consult your financial advisor, we are sure he can give you some guidance in choosing. Make sure the estate planning lawyer has passed the bar exam in your country because the laws and regulations vary from one to another. Look for a lawyer who will instill confidence in you and help you make a decision that can often be difficult and emotional. Weisinger Law Firm will help you t make the right decision.
Don’t fall for fancy slogans
Advertisements like “our concern is to take care of you”, “feel safe with us” are absolutely meaningless. Of course, this is something you expect from every lawyer, that’s why they are there to help you, right? It is better to focus on their site and see what services they specifically provide.
Reviewing Client Testimonials
When seeking an attorney for estate planning such as Prior Lake lawyers, one of the most telling indicators of their expertise and reliability is the feedback from their past clients. Client testimonials and reviews serve as a window into the attorney’s work ethic, professionalism, and the overall quality of their services. These reviews are often candid reflections of a client’s journey with the attorney, shedding light on both the highs and lows of their experience.
There are several avenues to explore when seeking these testimonials:
- Online Platforms: Websites like Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell, and even Google reviews can offer a plethora of client feedback. These platforms often provide ratings, detailed reviews, and sometimes even responses from the attorneys themselves.
- Direct References: Don’t hesitate to ask the attorney for references. A confident professional will have no qualms about connecting you with past clients who can vouch for their services.
- Word of Mouth: Sometimes, the most genuine feedback comes from personal networks. Ask friends or family if they’ve had any experiences with the attorney in question.
The Importance of Open Communication
Open and consistent communication is the bedrock of any successful attorney-client relationship. Before committing, it’s crucial to discuss and understand the attorney’s communication style and availability. Here’s why:
- Responsiveness: In the intricate world of estate planning, questions and concerns can arise at any moment. A responsive attorney who promptly addresses your inquiries not only eases anxieties but also ensures that you’re always in the loop.
- Regular Updates: Estate planning can be a lengthy process. Regular updates from your attorney about the progress and any changes are essential to ensure that you’re both on the same page.
- Accessibility: Life is unpredictable. There might be instances where you urgently need your attorney’s advice or assistance. Ensuring they’re accessible during such times is paramount.
Everyone happens to make mistakes in business. But is everyone ready to bear the consequences? Ask if your lawyer has insurance due to negligence and if he is ready to take responsibility if he makes a mistake. Malpractice insurance may not be a legal obligation of the lawyers; and therefore, always ask if the attorney has taken this kind of insurance coverage.
Contacting a bar association is useless
Some of you probably think that you will get the best recommendation for a lawyer if you contact a bar association. Unfortunately, this is not true. Please note that the members of the Bar Association are all those lawyers who have applied to be paid a fee. Therefore, even if you call and ask for a recommendation, you will get a random selection.
Ask a shortlisted estate lawyer a question
Now that you are one step closer to a decision and have decided to get in touch with a particular lawyer, it is time to ask him a few questions to help you understand if you made a good choice.
How long have you been practicing?
We already know that without higher education he would not be where he is now, but does he have enough experience? To attain the certification, the individual should have at least 3 years of experience in finance management, should have completed an approved wealth management training program, and should have completed at least 45 hours of ongoing education within 3 years. They should also have a letter of recommendation and a signed ethics statement to get CTFA-certified. Look for a lawyer who has already encountered similar cases and who will win you over with his knowledge, approach, and confidence.
Do you put your plan into action?
This is very important because there are those lawyers who only compile planning documents and then forward the work to another lawyer, while there are also those who do all the work themselves. Keep this in mind so you don’t rail the same thing twice – look for a reliable lawyer.
How do you charge?
You may be embarrassed to ask this question, but it is certainly one of those that plays a key role. While some charge flat fees, others prefer to charge per hour. In any case, this is something you should know at the outset so that you do not find yourself in an awkward situation later. It is also advisable to ask if any unforeseen additional costs are possible.
How long does it take for this process?
While it’s hard to say how long it takes to do something like this, it will also help if you know the approximate period in which everything will be completed so you can focus on doing other tasks such as visiting an accountant, investment advisor, or general tax expert.
Can debts be inherited along with property?
Although inheritance is most often associated with material gain, there is another side to the medal that says you can also inherit debts such as unpaid bills or credit obligations. Then the debts are transferred to the heirs, about which all interested parties should be informed in detail and in a timely manner. A mitigating circumstance is that the heirs are liable for the testator’s debts only up to the value of the inherited property.
Although the conversation about death is never pleasant, it is advised that you think about everything in advance in order to later facilitate the whole procedure for your potential heirs. Do not hesitate to seek the help of an estate planning attorney to help you do this in the best possible way. In addition, you will spare your heirs to go in search of a lawyer because they will feel that you have chosen the one who will lead the whole process to the very end.