What to Consider When Looking for an Estate Planning Attorney
You need to feel comfortable with the attorney who, ideally, needs to get to know you well enough for you to tell them not just about the successes in your life and where things have gone according to your plan, but also about when things haven not happened according to your plans. You also need to be comfortable with the attorney to discuss your immediate family, as well as those “interesting” extended family members. An estate planning attorney can’t create a plan for when something happens to you or for something to be avoided, if you are not comfortable enough with that attorney that you don’t tell them about it. You also need to feel comfortable enough to ask questions about the parts of your estate plan that you are not knowledgeable about, that have not been explained in a way that you understand and will remember, that enable you to make decisions that need to be made in order to create an estate plan that is right for you.
Estate planning is a very personal thing. It’s about you, your life, your goals, your family, and the worries of life that keep you up late into the night or in the stillness of the early morning hours. After creating your estate plan, you should not continue to worry if your money and property will be used to your benefit, or worry if your money and property will actually go to the people who you want it to go to. You need to have trust in the attorney who will be creating your estate plan, which, in its most basic form, is a written set of instructions about your stuff and money. Think about the skills and qualities that people possess or display that instills a feeling of trust in you and seek out an attorney who possesses those skills and the knowledge to create an estate plan that you trust. If you do not have trust in the attorney you choose and in the estate plan that is created for you, you are missing out of one of the primary benefits of creating an estate plan – worrying less and enjoying tomorrow more.
In order to get an estate plan created that suits your needs and your plans, communications, spoken and written, there must be 2-way communication between you and the estate planning attorney. Just like in every other aspect of life, good communication is 2-way and is “active.” You need to know that when you speak or write to the attorney, the attorney is listening to you and understands you. You also need to work with an attorney who discusses things in a way that you understand the process, your options, and the results. In estate planning, it is just as much listening as it is talking – about your goals, concerns, and your questions. If 2-way communication does not happen, it is unlikely that you will get a good estate plan, because the attorney will not have listened to what is important to you and drafted an estate plan for you. Also, it is unlikely that you will know the different parts of your plan and how each part works and benefits you, and unlikely that you will know if it needs to be changed or updated when certain things in your life change and avoid the things that you worry about late at night and in the early morning hours.