If you are interested in setting up a plan for your estate if you were to become incapacitated or pass away suddenly, the best way to do that is with the help of a qualified, experienced probate lawyer. Finding a good lawyer can be like searching for a needle in a haystack, so we have a few tips to help you find the right attorney for your estate.
If you have designated an executor for your will, an experienced probate lawyer will help them through the probate process. The lawyer can also help with drafting living trusts or wills, serve as administrator or executor themselves or give advice regarding power of attorney. There are several reasons that your will can be challenged after you die, and an attorney is designated to ensure that your estate is handled how you chose.
Questions to Ask a Probate Attorney
Many probate attorneys offer a free initial consultation, during which you can ask questions that help you determine if a specific attorney fits your personality and your needs. Some questions to ask during the consultation include:
- What kind of experience does the attorney have?
- What are the rates and how do they charge them?
- Will the lawyer allow you to handle some of the work yourself to avoid certain fees?
- Does the attorney do all the work or are legal assistants available to keep the fees lower?
- Does the attorney handle final tax returns for the estate of a deceased person?
- Is there an estimate about how long it will take to get through probate?
Those with large estates may also want to ask about federal and state taxes. Does that attorney prepared tax returns if necessary, and what kind of experience do they have with estate tax returns?
What Special Needs do You Have?
If you need an experienced probate lawyer that has experience with special circumstances, you’ll also want to address this during the initial consultation. For example, do you have children who will need lifelong care after you are gone? Do you need services in a language other than English? Does the lawyer need to be able to practice in multiple states to handle your estate?
Associations and Reviews
You may also want to choose a probate attorney that is associated with certain professional organizations, such as the American Bar Association or the American Association of Estate Planning Attorneys. In addition, you can use sites like Avvo to read reviews from past clients of the attorney to determine if you want to hire them.
At Horn & Johnsen, we strive to provide the best in service, professionalism and experience. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced probate lawyer to begin the estate planning process.