Choosing an Attorney for Your Estate Planning

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A recent article by Susan Kostal, Senior Editor of the Legal channel, tells us who to look for when searching for a Trust, Wills, and Estates Attorney.

The article is a great read for people wondering how to find a qualified Trust and Estates Attorney. Most of the advice in the article is good quality common sense stuff.

Ask Your Friends

According to the article: “If you’re unsure how to find the right lawyer, start by asking friends for recommendations. Who have they used — and liked? You can also ask other lawyers who they would use.”

Look the Attorney in the Eye

Attorney Philip Feldman, head of the trusts and estates practice at Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass in San Francisco is quoted in the article.  Feldman states that “Clients need to get a sense of who their lawyer is going to be. It’s important to look someone in the eye. This should be one of the most personal professional relationships you’ll have.”

Cost Expectations

Even more excellent advice from Ms. Kostal regarding fees:  “An average flat fee for a basic revocable trust plan may run from $2,500 to $10,000, depending on the complexity of the trust and the size of the estate. Flat fees, however, aren’t necessarily a better deal than hourly rates. And the most expensive lawyer isn’t always the best.

Ask at the outset for the lawyer’s rate. It’s better to know upfront, so that neither of you wastes the other’s time if there’s a huge discrepancy between what an attorney charges and what you’re willing to pay. Generally, the more assets a person has, the more complicated his estate is likely to be, and the more it will cost to put together a thoughtful estate plan.”

We think the advice provided by the article is right on point and recommend that you take a few minutes to read it.

For more information on Trusts: Articles on Trusts and Estate Planning.


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19 Responses

  1. I appreciate how you say that your relationship with a probate lawyer should be one of the most personal professional relationships you have. Finding someone who is very experienced as well as very personable would be really helpful as well. Ever since the birth of my daughter last year, my husband and I have been thinking more about our will. When we hire a probate lawyer to help us write it out, we’ll have to follow your advice and find someone who we can get along with.

    • Walter Shannon says:

      Thank you for your comment Hannah. I hope you have had luck finding an attorney you can connect with. Be sure and follow through with your intentions. Planning your estate is a primary way to protect your family from the toils and snares related to passing assets on after death.

  2. My wife and I think it’s time to plan out our estate. I’ll take your advice and start asking some of our older friends for recommendations. We’ve never needed a lawyer before, so this is good to know.

    • Walter Shannon says:

      Hi Ridley. I encourage you to proceed with your plan. I think the toughest part is just starting the process. So hard to find the time to make that first appointment.

      According to statistics I have read on and off over the years, only about 15 to 20 percent of folks we know actually do any estate planning. The rest let the chips fall.

      We see and handle unplanned probates at our office. The cost in both money and in damage to family relationships can be substantial. It is worth the time and effort needed to plan.

  3. I appreciate how you said that you should choose an attorney that is well-reviewed by others. I also like how you mentioned that they should be able to look you in the eye and be a professional. My parents are looking into attorneys to help them plan their estate and write their wells because it is such a serious matter to consider. I’ll pass on your tips.

    • Walter Shannon says:

      Thank you for your comment Ashley. Tell your parents to make sure they are comfortable with and understand what they are signing. They hired an attorney so that he or she can provide an full understanding of documents and advice regarding how they are to be used going forward.

      No question is a dumb question.Your parents should be sure they ask any questions they have. They should not limit questions to the face to face meetings either. Be sure that they feel comfortable calling or e-mailing the attorney with questions as they come to them.

  4. I didn’t know that an estate planning attorney could help you with your wills. Thanks for explaining how you should find a lawyer that is well-recommended by others. My parents are looking into law and probate lawyers since it’s time for them to start preparing that part of their lives.

    • Walter Shannon says:

      Thank you for you comment Ashley. Great to hear from you. Always best to plan in this respect vs. letting things just go the way the wind blows them. Best of luck to you and your parents.

  5. Silas Knight says:

    It’s good to know how to find an estate planning lawyer. I like how you said that you need to ask friends to see who they are using. We’re hoping to figure out our estate soon, so I’ll start asking around.

  6. Joy Butler says:

    Hi Walter, I’m grateful for your advice that when hiring a lawyer we should look at him in the eye. I had no idea where it will end up but I’ll do trust your experience. If it can help, I think it can’t harm me either. Thanks and more power!

  7. Deedee Lewis says:

    Now that we’ve had kids, my husband and I really need to meet with an estate planning lawyer and make sure that everything is set in case something were to happen to us. I love your simple tip of looking your lawyer right in the eye. Just like you said, it’s a very personal professional relationship.

  8. You are quite right, there is no shame in asking the fee of an estate planning attorney when hiring them beforehand. It is better to know what fits your budget, than end up with regret later on about drowning in lawyer fees. If I ever reach the point when I need an expert estate attorney, I’ll gladly keep this tips on how to choose one in mind.

  9. I really don’t get what you meant, but I appreciated it when you said that since a lawyer-client relationship is one of the most important relationships, the person needs to look the person in the eye. My sister is the one that needs a probate lawyer, so maybe she will understand what you mean. If it will help her with the case, surely she will know how to figure this out. Thank you.

  10. Francine says:

    Thanks for sharing your opinions. A basic estate plan benefits both you and your loved ones in the event of your incapacity and upon your death.

  11. Well Said Shannon. Everybody has a lot of doubts while choosing the right attorney at first time. And this is the good answers for them.

  12. Your idea of looking someone in the eye because I will be working with them for a very long time got my attention. I really do not know why this is necessary, but I have the feeling that it is related to trust. And I know that in cases like probate and real estate where assets are involved, I have to make sure that I work with someone that I can trust.

  13. It makes a lot of sense that you should set expectations with your lawyer right away and find out about the cost as well as any extra fees and services. My sister and her husband are creating their will right now and they want to find an attorney who they can trust to help them create and write the document so that it is done legally. I think it would be a great idea for them to interview potential lawyers so that they can meet them in person and get a sense if they can trust them and if they will be easy to work with.

  14. Very informative!!! Thanks for sharing this information. I really got great information from this blog.

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