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5 questions to ask your Estate Planning Lawyer

You have decided to sit down with an attorney to draft your estate plan. Congratulations! You and your family will be better prepared for will happen after your passing than half of the US population.

The next step is to find the right attorney to help put together your will, powers of attorney or a trust. The Lawyer that you hire should not only be able to competently execute these documents but should help you work through any issues that might arise. So, what should you ask a lawyer before you sign on the dotted line? Here are five questions to help determine if he or she is a good fit for you.

  1. What are your legal fees? Depending on the type of work you're requesting, there are several fee agreement plans a lawyer can offer. For instance, if you only need to prepare a will or prenuptial agreement, the lawyer may charge a flat fee for the service. For ongoing probate issues, the lawyer may charge an hourly fee.
  2. Do I need to prepare anything for our initial consultation? In order to help the attorney understand your needs, you may want to listing all your financial and person information such as your marital status, number of children, special requests, and an inventory of your shared and individual assets. This will give the attorney a better idea of how to properly represent you, and can even save you time (and money).
  3. Where are you licensed to practice law? If you have assets in other states, one question to ask your estate planning lawyer is which states they're licensed to practice in. To practice law in another state, the lawyer must be licensed by that state's bar association.
  4. If I have complex estate planning issues, can you answer all of my questions?While some people assume that estate planning attorneys only draft wills, many lawyers in the area of estate planning also specialize in trusts, probate, and tax law since those types of issues are related to a person's estate. If the attorney is unable to answer all of your complex questions, he may be able to refer to you another lawyer.
  5. Does my will need to be updated because of a life-changing event? If you already have a will, but made changes to your life since it was drafted -- like divorce, marriage, or starting a new business, you may want to update your will. A local estate-planning lawyer can tell you whether a will update is necessary for your specific situation. And since each state has different laws regarding the legal way to change a will, a local lawyer will be able to figure out the best way to proceed.

It's important to hire an attorney who understands your needs and requests, especially when dealing with something as personal as estate planning. Asking your potential lawyer these five questions will help you determine if he or she is right for you.