April 28, 2022 | Estate Planning
7 Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Estate Planning Attorney
When you choose an estate planning attorney, you’re not just selecting someone for a one-time engagement. Ideally, you’re selecting someone you can rely on for years to come. That’s why we compiled this list of questions to help you select the right partner for your estate planning. Here’s what we recommend you ask and why:
1. In your opinion, what is the greatest risk in retirement I need to guard against?
Long-term care is a sizeable expense, costing thousands of dollars per month. You might think you won’t need it, but recent data suggests most retirees will. Without proper planning, long-term care could easily overcome your savings—and worse—cost you your home. It’s important to have an estate planning attorney who is attuned to this issue and will provide you with asset protection strategies.
2. How do you charge for estate plans and how long does each case take from start to finish?
If an attorney can’t readily offer an answer to this question, that’s a red flag. Clear expectations are critical for a successful relationship.
3. How do you support the plans you build?
As mentioned above, estate planning is something you should be revisiting annually and as your life changes to ensure your plan is up to date and still provides adequate protection. When life gets busy, you may not remember to check in with your attorney about whether it’s time to update your plan. Will they check in with you? Or, if you have a simple question, will you get a bill for the call?
4. Will you support my plan if I go into a nursing home?
You’ll want to get a sense of how (or if) the attorney would be there for your family during a crisis. Do they have a team with dedicated expertise to assist with these situations? And will your family have to worry about a surprise bill?
5. What happens if you retire or stop practicing law?
Remember, you hope for this to be a long-term relationship. You want to know exactly who to call, especially in the event of a crisis when finding someone new would be stressful. Understanding your attorney’s succession planning is important.
6. What is the average estate size of your planning clients?
Finding an attorney who works with clients whose net worths are similar to yours can make the difference when it comes to their experience in asset protection planning.
7. How many estate plans has your firm supported?
With this question, you’re looking to get a sense of the firm’s longevity and experience. How long have they been in business and what is the size of their practice? Is estate planning their focus, or just a small part of what they do?
We know that finding the right estate planning attorney can be stressful. To make it easier, we’ve created a downloadable guide, complete with space for notes, that you can print out and take to consultations. It includes all the questions above, more insights, and our own answers to these questions so you can compare.