There are many different kinds of estate planning attorneys, but most fall into one of two categories. The first is someone who will prepare your documents, rubber-stamp your plan to ensure it stands up in court, and may even offer to administer the estate after your passing. The second is a person who does all of the above but also keeps an eye on your plan as the years go by to prepare you for the impact of major life changes.
There’s nothing wrong with a “one and done” lawyer if that’s the service you require. However, an attorney who acts as your advisor and maintains your plan while you are living can offer significant advantages.
What You Should Look for in an Estate Planning Attorney
Your chosen attorney should be able to perform basic estate planning tasks such as creating a will or trust, ensuring the estate is structured in a way that will reduce or avoid conflicts, and minimizing taxes and legal expenses during estate administration. Once they have met these requirements, you should explore additional protections and benefits based on your specific needs.
Before hiring an attorney, you may want to ask whether they can offer:
- A solution tailored to you. Whether you need a simple, straightforward will or you own several trusts with multiple heirs, your attorney should explain the differences between each estate planning tool and only recommend the ones that are right for you. If you don’t need a trust, a lawyer shouldn’t recommend one in order to charge more for their services.
- A plan for incapacity. You need more than an end-of-life plan; you need a “what if” plan. Your lawyer should prepare documentation (such as powers of attorney, guardianship designations, and health care directives) that take effect if you should ever become mentally incapacitated.
- A way to protect your kids. If you pass away before your children reach the age of majority, the inheritances meant for them may fall into the wrong hands. You have the ability to choose who will be able to handle financial matters for your kids, who will raise your children, and how the money will be distributed to your heirs once they reach adulthood.
- Familiarity with business and real estate concerns. If you are a shareholder of a company or own real estate beyond your own home, you will need a lawyer who is well-versed in corporate law to ensure your business assets and properties will be passed on according to your wishes.
- A strong follow-up. Life is unpredictable, and you may not remember to update your plan after changes in your finances or personal circumstances. Any changes in the law, marriages, divorces, births of new children, or business restructuring can have unintended effects on your plan, increasing the chances of litigation. In addition to test-driving each of our clients’ plans to ensure no stone has been left unturned, Yolofsky Law offers regular reviews of your plan so you can make adjustments that suit your needs.
- Free updated information. Beware of any attorney who is unwilling to share their expertise without getting your credit card information. Browse the law firm’s website to see if they keep a blog, publish articles, offer free guides on legal topics, or otherwise keep you informed on changes that might affect your plan.
- A copy for your records. There’s a lot of paperwork involved in the estate planning process, and many people forget the details as soon as they walk out the door. We send you home with copies of your documentation in one easy-to-manage file, allowing you to review your plan at your leisure.
Let Us Be Your Trusted Advisor
At Yolofsky Law, our Florida estate planning team helps clients protect what matters most. Give us a call today to discuss your options or download our free estate planning guide, Be a Hero to Your Family.