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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Thursday, June 25, 2020

What to Look for in an Estate Planning Attorney

When you decide to protect your future and provide for your loved ones, a lawyer can help you formulate your plans and draft the documents you need. A California estate planning lawyer can do much more for you than merely write a will or living trust. Your lawyer can also:

  • Prepare power of attorney papers
  • Write healthcare decision proxies
  • Draft Medicaid trusts for nursing home expenses
  • Minimize estate taxes for your spouse and other beneficiaries
  • Protect the assets of your beneficiaries from others or sometimes from themselves

These are but a few examples of the things you might want to consider as part of your estate plan.

Specialist in Estate Planning

You might love the lawyer you used for some other matter, but it would be best if you hired an attorney who specializes in estate planning. If any of your documents fail to meet the legal requirements, a court could declare those papers invalid. State and federal laws that can impact estate planning change often. By limiting his law practice to estate planning, the attorney can devote the time and attention needed to stay on top of statutory changes and the court cases that interpret those laws.

Tax Implications

One of the goals of many estate plans is to minimize the amount of taxes one will have to pay, including estate, gift, and income taxes. Your estate planning lawyer needs to understand the tax consequences of various estate planning strategies.

Legal Fees

A good estate planning lawyer will answer your questions about the cost of the estate planning services. It can be frustrating to get a meaningful response from some lawyers about how much their services will cost. When an attorney has practiced in this field for some time, he should be able to give you an estimate of how much your estate planning will cost.

Of course, a simple will costs less than a complicated living trust that provides for several unique situations in your family. A bicycle does not cost as much as a car. Still, after talking with you about your situation, the estate planning attorney should have a general idea of the amount of work that will go into creating the documents you need. The original estimate might include a few minor edits to the documents. If you make significant or multiple changes, that extra work will add to the cost of the project.

“Bedside Manner”

Trust your gut instincts when you meet in person with an estate planning attorney. Just as with a doctor, your attorney’s “bedside manner” is vital. The lawyer should not rush you. He should take the time to listen to you and answer your questions. He should not talk down to you or treat you like a number.

You need to share highly personal information with your estate planning lawyer. If you do not feel comfortable with your attorney, you might not reveal everything that the lawyer needs to know to meet your needs.

Depending on your situation, you might have additional factors to explore when you select an attorney.

Contact us today. Our California estate planning attorneys can help you get the peace of mind of knowing that you and your loved ones have the legal protections you need and want.


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