10 Questions to Ask If You Are Looking for an Estate Planning Attorney
At Phelps LaClair, when we prepare an estate plan for you it is a lifelong commitment – not just a one-and-done arrangement. We are invested in the Gilbert, Mesa, Chandler and surrounding Phoenix metro communities. That is why taking time to make sure you have the right “fit” with your Arizona estate planning attorney should not be taken lightly. Otherwise, you will find yourself starting all over with a new Arizona estate planning attorney every few years … and that gets expensive and time consuming!
If you are looking for an Arizona estate planning attorney, here are 10 useful questions to ask if you want to make sure you have the right fit:
Do they focus exclusively on estate planning?
At Phelps LaClair, estate planning is all we do. We don’t just dabble in estate planning while practicing other areas of law.
How long have they been in business and how many estate plans have they set up?
Phelps LaClair is a well-established Arizona law firm of more than 40 years, and all of those years have been devoted to estate planning. During that time, Phelps LaClair has designed thousands of Living Trust estate plans!
How many trusts and estates have they handled after clients have passed away?
This is when an estate plan is truly tested! At Phelps LaClair, we have implemented hundreds of trusts and estates after clients have passed away. Because we have seen what works and what doesn’t in real life scenarios, we can build a more effective Living Trust plan for you on the “front end.”
Are their fees reasonable and predictable, both now and in the future?
At Phelps LaClair, we despise billing by the hour even more than you despise paying by the hour. We believe that a long-term, trusting relationship with you can exist only when our work is done for a reasonable flat-fee that is disclosed up-front. No need to keep one eye on the clock during our meetings; no need to fear calling us with a question; and no surprise invoices in your mailbox!
Does their fee include helping you fund the Living Trust?
Without proper funding, your trust will not avoid probate. Spending money on a trust that was never funded is no better than buying a car and not filling it up with gas. At Phelps LaClair, we don’t send you home with a pile of documents and leave all of the funding up to you. We help you turn over every stone to make sure your assets are put into the trust.
Do they provide a free “Lifetime Service Package”?
An outdated estate plan will not work properly when the time comes. Many attorneys charge annual fees to maintain your estate plan. At Phelps LaClair, we provide a unique free Lifetime Service Package after you set up your estate plan. This package includes free phone calls any time you have a question, free trust review meetings with an attorney every three years, as well as free educational seminars to keep you informed as the laws and planning strategies change.
Will they be there for your loved ones when the time comes?
As an established multi-generational law firm, our history suggests that we will be here to guide your loved ones when the time comes to put your Living Trust into action. When you do a Living Trust with us, we will meet with your Successor Trustees for a post-death consultation at no charge to get them started on the right path.
Are they designing Living Trusts that protect your loved ones from the unknowns?
All Living Trust plans are not created equal. Years of experience has shown us the purpose of a Living Trust is not just to avoid probate. A Living Trust should be designed to protect your loved ones’ inheritances from unforeseen events that might happen in their lives after you die, such as divorce, lawsuits, creditors, government liens, etc. Otherwise, your hard-earned money will end up in the hands of ex-spouses, predators or the government after you die. Protect against the unknown!
Will the attorney (not the paralegal) take the time to customize the right plan for you?
At Phelps LaClair, we don’t believe in “boilerplate” documents because there are no “boilerplate” families. We take the time to listen to your goals and your unique circumstances to make sure your Living Trust accomplishes what you want for you and your loved ones. Your documents will be designed, drafted and explained to you by an attorney – not a paralegal!
Do they have Advanced Tax Degrees and offer advanced level tax and asset protection planning beyond a Living Trust?
Estate planning and tax planning go hand-in-hand. At Phelps LaClair, we have attorneys with Advanced Degrees in accounting and tax law, which means we can offer advanced level income tax, estate tax and asset protection strategies for clients with larger estates, closely-held businesses or “high risk” assets such as rental properties.