Finding an estate planning attorney can be a chore. You see advertisements on park benches, billboards, and TV. You may be wondering the best way to ensure you get an experienced, knowledgeable, and helpful lawyer to trust with preparing your last will and testament. Here are some things you should consider before hiring an estate planning attorney in Orange County.

What does an estate planning lawyer do?

Most people think that estate attorneys only create wills. Yes, you will get help with your last will and testament, but your lawyer will help in other areas as well. Attorneys who specialize in estate planning can also help with living trusts, estate taxes, and more. They often partner with financial planners and insurance carriers to offer sound advice.

Estate lawyers can also prepare your power of attorney and health care directives so that someone else can handle your affairs if you are unable to do so. Your lawyer will make sure that your assets are protected and that your wishes are followed. Having these plans in place ensures that your loved ones don’t have to guess or stress about determining your wishes.

How much does an estate attorney cost?

The total cost will depend on the required preparations. Since estate planning attorneys are highly specialized, you might pay slightly higher fees than for other kinds of legal assistance. However, investing in a specialist is worth it, as you stand to lose money in the long run when working with the wrong attorney.

The highly-skilled estate lawyers can help reduce your estate taxes and even help grow your investments. More importantly, doing things right the first time will help avoid problematic situations, and minimize the chances of getting dragged into court. The legal fees associated with probate court are best-spent upfront on getting the best available services.

Law firms operate in a variety of ways. Some will do a free consultation for the initial meeting while others might charge a flat fee. You can often hold your initial meeting over the phone. The lawyer will ask questions to get a feel for your needs and then sell you on the services they’re able to provide for you. From there, you might pay a flat fee to prepare documents and so on. Others may require an hourly fee for the lawyer’s time. Regardless, don’t be afraid to ask questions about  fees, what’s included, and how it compares to other lawyers’ fees.

What qualifies should my estate lawyer have?

  • Look for someone who specializes in estate planning. A lawyer practicing in the general capacity may not have the knowledge or experience to help your unique situation.
  • Make sure you find an attorney that fits your personality and that you trust. Part of the planning process involves revealing intimate details of your life, family, and finances.
  • Double-check that your lawyer is not only allowed to practice in your state but that he or she stays up on current tax and real estate laws. A big enough mistake could result in your estate plan being invalidated by the court.
  • Since your lawyer will work with financial advisors, insurance companies, and others look for someone who does well on a team. It also helps if your attorney is well-organized.

Do you have any tips on what to look for in an estate planning attorney? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

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