How To Select an Estate Planning Attorney
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Phelps LaClair, serving Mesa, Chandler, and Phoenix, is a second generation estate planning firm. With a population of 4.7 million people, the Phoenix metropolitan area is an enormous client base for us. As much as we would like to, we know we can’t possibly serve the needs of everyone who could benefit from our expertise. But in the spirit of wanting you to find what is best for you, we would like to offer some advice on how to select an estate planning lawyer.
Assess your needs
Everyone’s situation is unique; every family’s estate planning needs are different. The first step in selecting an estate planning attorney is to understand what you want to accomplish with your estate plan. Perhaps, like most people, you simply want an attorney who can draw up a will, design a basic living trust, or draft a power of attorney. Others may need someone well informed in areas of elder law and long-term care. As we like to say, Boilerplate solutions are for boilerplate families—and we don’t know any boilerplate families.
Make a list of potential candidates
When you know what you need in an estate plan, you can begin to search for appropriate candidates. Asking your current financial professionals for recommendations is a good place to start. Your investment banker, accountant, and insurance agent are likely to recommend attorneys you can trust. You should also consult with family members and friends. They will certainly tell you of any good or bad dealings they have had with estate planning attorneys.
Do a background check
When you have a list of good leads and referrals, you can begin to check out their backgrounds. Websites will reveal quality information on the firm, the experience and the expertise of each attorney. You can get a sense of what it would be like to work with them by their social media presence and presentation. This will help you narrow the list to people you feel could best serve your needs.
Interview the candidates
The interview process is where you will gain understanding that will lead you to select the attorney who is right for you. In your initial consultation, be prepared to ask and answer questions. Bring your financial documents, your list of assets, and your estate planning goals. These are documents that the candidate attorney will need to see in order to answer many of your questions.
Some of the basic questions you’ll want to ask concern the attorney’s education, experience, and field of expertise. Even though you have discovered some of this through the website, you will get more knowledge and insight in a face-to-face consultation. You also want to know if you will be working with the attorney himself, or with a paralegal.
Finally, you need to know the attorney’s fees and what charges will be included. Some will offer a flat fee for a simple will or power of attorney; others will bill by the hour, especially if you need a complex plan to be crafted. Budget is one of the many factors in the choice of an estate planning lawyer, so be certain that the attorney you interview fits your financial picture.
Make your choice
The goal of the interview process is to find the attorney you are most comfortable with and are confident can design the best estate plan for you. After all the study, research and interviews have been completed, you should be at the finish line with a good feeling about who you want to draw up your plan. Trust your instincts and choose the one who stands out to you.
We hope that these tips on how to select an estate planning attorney have been helpful. At Phelps LaClair, we want you to have the best plan possible. Please call us for a free consultation. We’d love to meet you face to face. And while we may not be able to help everyone, we would certainly enjoy the opportunity to serve you and your family.