So you have finally decided to get your estate planning affairs in order. Here are a few questions you should ask the attorney to make sure that he or she is the right person to help get your affairs in order.
1. Is Estate Planning Your Primary Focus?
You wouldn't be comfortable with your chiropractor performing brain surgery, would you? Of course not! Unfortunately, the practice of law is much different than the medical field. Attorneys are legally allowed to assist in almost any legal issue you can imagine.
However, that doesn't mean it is a good idea to hire a general attorney. You want to make sure you work with an attorney whose primary focus is estate planning. That way, your attorney will be able to help advise you with the latest estate and tax planning strategies. You will also rest assured knowing that a specialist is up to date on the latest laws and best practices.
2. Are You Experienced?
This question should be coupled with the first one in order to decide how skilled you believe the attorney is. An attorney who has 30 years of experience, but only does estate planning as 10% of is practice is MUCH different than someone who has done nothing but estate planning for the same amount of time. Generally speaking, an attorney who has a minimum of 5 years of experience focusing on a specific field should be rather skilled. The more situations the attorney has been exposed to, the more knowledge the attorney has to assist you with your own situation.
There is a flip side to this. Sometimes, if an attorney has been out of law school for too long, their knowledge may not be up to date. 30 years ago, most law schools did not each teach attorneys about trusts at all! If your gut tells you someone is too "set in their ways" and starts to get frustrated when you ask why they are recommending something to you, it might be time to look elsewhere. Beware of the phrase "this is how we have done it for many, many years".
3. Do You Help With Trust Funding