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What Should I Look For in an Estate Planning Lawyer?

estate planning lawyer

The purpose of estate planning is to make sure that your property and other assets are taken care of either after you pass away or you are no longer able to take care of yourself. It is a plan for the future to help protect both yourself and any heirs or benefactors you may have. 

Reasons you need an estate planning lawyer

People hire estate planning lawyers for a variety of reasons. Some of these include decreasing the size of their estate tax, avoiding probate, making a living trust, understanding the difference between a trust and a will, establishing a power of attorney, and making sure their heirs will be taken care of. 

An estate planning lawyer can help you make a comprehensive plan for your future.

This is usually in the form of creating a will or a trust. Their job is to figure out your exact needs to be able to select the best plan to help you achieve these goals. Estate planning is not a one-fits-all type of service. Rather, each client has different needs and specific goals that the attorney can help assess and meet.   

Estate planning lawyers have a vast knowledge of federal and state-specific estate laws. They understand the legalese language that is needed in each type of document. This is important because it can ensure that there will be no future lawsuits, fights among beneficiaries, or people contesting your will. 

There are some situations where an estate planning lawyer is especially helpful. For example, they can help you manage large estates that may have to pay an estate tax.

While there is no estate tax in Nevada, your estate may still be responsible for paying the federal estate tax. Estate planning attorneys can also help you devise a plan to help your beneficiaries skip the probate process completely.

Do your research

The first step in selecting the right estate planning lawyer is to compile a list of attorneys in your area. You can make this list by doing a google search for estate planning lawyers and you can ask friends and family for referrals for lawyers they have used previously.

You can also check your local state bar to find a list of attorneys in your area, such as the Nevada state bar lawyer directory.

Don’t let your search end there. Once you have compiled a list, it is time to start conducting due diligence on the attorneys. Check reviews online. Contact any bar associations they are affiliated with and see if they have any disciplinary actions against them. Many jurisdictions allow you to view this quickly online through their website.

Read our customer online reviews

Don’t trust website promises or slogans. These sites are designed to look interesting and make you want to be a client.

Two good things to look for are: do they have testimonials and do they have a blog? Testimonials allow you to hear about their successes from past clients. Blog articles show that the attorneys are passionate about what they do and they have in-depth knowledge about all aspects of estate planning. 

Being a lawyer well-versed in estate planning is not the only way to get training on the subject. There are several certifications that a lawyer may get to understand the subject fully. See if they have the letters CEP at the end of their title. This means that they are a certified estate planner who has been certified in a specialized field that focuses on taxes or estates and trusts. 

Questions to ask an estate planning attorney

After you complete your research, you should have a list of 2-3 lawyers that you really like. The next step is to interview them. This is usually done by calling their office. Don’t be alarmed if a paralegal or assistant takes your information and has a lawyer call you back. This just means the lawyer is working on a case – and that is a good sign.  

When interviewing attorneys, it is best to have a list of questions prepared. This will help make sure you get all the information you need to make the right choice on selecting the lawyer you want to work with.

Some common questions to ask include:

How long have you been practicing?

Is your main focus estate planning?

How long will it take to complete all of my estate planning?

Do you send estate documents for me to review?

How much tax experience do you have?

What type of communication do you prefer?

Can I come to you when I have additional or even minor questions?

Do you know about federal and state-specific tax laws?

How much do you charge for the services I need?

Before you meet with an estate planning attorney, review the following top common estate planning questions to better understand your estate planning options.

Finding a good fit

Once you have interviewed 2-3 attorneys, it is time to make a choice. There may be a clear lawyer that meets your needs and that you got a great feeling about. However, it may also be the case that you like all of them and don’t know how to choose. 

If this is the case, there are several things you look at to help make your decision.

First, make sure they have a communication style you like. Think back to every interaction you had with them. Do they make calls but you prefer texts and emails? Are they abrupt and fast on the phone but you like to have time to talk to them? Little details like that may not seem important at first, but they can be a big deal once you hire them.

Second, look at how they treat you and their staff. Do you feel taken care of and do they remember your name when you call or visit? Does the staff look happy to be there or do they seem to be counting down the hours until the office closes? If the staff is unhappy, it could be a good indicator of how the lawyer treats employees or clients.  

Finally, you need to assess how each lawyer makes you feel. Do you truly trust them and think that they could be a good advocate for you? Estate planning attorneys may still be representing you and your assets after you pass away. You want to make sure that the one you choose knows exactly what you want. Often times final decisions like these come down to a gut feeling.

Free Consultation with Estate Planning Attorney

If you have additional questions on how an estate planning lawyer can help you protest your estate, call us today for a free consultation with our experienced 5-star rated estate planning attorneys in Las Vegas!