Posts Tagged ‘wills’

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.


Why Use an Attorney for Your Will When You Can Download One for Free?

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There are certainly forms out there on the internet or on a book store shelf that just might work for you. However, there is a chance that they will not work for you.  Your heirs can really get burned when these do-it-yourself wills fail to work as intended.

Some time ago, two wonderful new clients came into our office with a homemade trust for us to review. The trust form had many blanks the form’s provider had incorporated into it. Many of the blanks were left unanswered. Unfortunately, when it comes to money mixed with the emotion of losing a loved one, it is very easy to disagree. Those open blanks made the trust so vague that a court would have been required to sort out the language if the trustee and beneficiaries disagreed on what to do. As anyone can tell you, the cost of airing issues in court can consume your assets in no time.

It also became clear that our new clients had no one to assist them with how to use the homemade trust after they bought it from the vendor.  In fact, the vendor made it clear it could not offer legal advice with its form. As a result, the homemade trust was not properly funded.

“Funding” is a term used to describe the process of transferring your property into your trust. Because they had no one to assist them with this, they failed to fund the trust with assets that should have been placed into it while funding the trust with other assets that might have been better off going directly to a plan beneficiary rather than to the trust. These innocent missteps could have spelled trouble and cost a great deal of money after they passed. Luckily we were able to get them on track.

An attorney brings you the experienced advice that only he or she can provide after working in the law area for a number of years. A good quality estate planning attorney spends the time it takes to get to know you and find out what your goals are. Then, after that is determined, the attorney carefully drafts the documents needed for you to achieve those goals. Once the documents are drafted, he or she explains them to you and then assists you with the execution of your plan.

While it is very important to have your estate plan documents drafted correctly, you do not hire an attorney for the documents alone. It is very difficult to assure your plan will take care of you and your loved ones without an attorney’s advice and guidance. In short, the money you use to work with a qualified estate planning attorney is money well spent.