How To Choose The Best Estate Planning Attorney For You
Updated: Apr 29
Finding and choosing an estate planning attorney can be intimidating. This article offers tips for finding and interviewing lawyers. With Boz Law Offices you will find we have qualified estate planning attorneys in the Greater Boston Area ready to serve you and cater to your specific needs.
What Is an Estate Planning Attorney?
Estate planning attorneys are helpful during the estate planning process and afterwards through the process of probate court. They understand the state and federal laws that will impact your estate.
Estate planning attorneys, also referred to as estate law attorneys or probate attorneys, are experienced and licensed law professionals with a thorough understanding of the state and federal laws that affect how your estate will be inventoried, valued, dispersed, and taxed after your death. In addition to educating you about the probate process, an estate planning attorney can assist you with the following tasks:
Creating a will
Designating your beneficiaries
Establishing durable power of attorney and medical durable power of attorney
Finding ways to reduce and avoid estate tax when possible
Finding ways to avoid the probate court process
Setting up any trusts you might need to protect your assets, both for your own benefit during your lifetime in the event of incapacity, and for the benefit of your beneficiaries after your death
Some of the primary benefits of working with an estate planning attorney include:
Creating an individualized plan based on your specific needs and offering you the most valuable legal advice for your situation
Working with an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about current estate planning laws in your state, ensuring that the decisions you make will be made in accordance with the law and are legally enforceable
Access to a specialist who can serve as a resource for questions, concerns, changes, and updates to your will and trust
Estate planning attorneys often charge a flat fee to help you craft binding legal documents such as wills and durable power of attorney, but they can also be employed on an hourly basis to help you maintain your estate, act on your behalf to handle disputes when called upon, and ensure that your will is carried out according to plan when required. An estate planning attorney can also be called upon to guide anyone with power of attorney over a recently deceased person's estate through the process of probate court. In fact, a good estate planning attorney may be able to help you avoid probate court altogether, but that largely depends on the type of assets in the deceased's estate and how they are legally allowed to be transferred. In the event that a beneficiary (or even an individual not designated as a beneficiary) announces that he or she plans to contest the will and sue the estate of a deceased family member or loved one that you also stand to benefit from, it might be in your best interest to consult an estate planning attorney immediately. Such lawsuits can quickly drain the estate's funds and leave all beneficiaries a little worse for the wear.
How do you find a good Estate Planning Attorney?
Today we'd like to discuss how to locate a good estate planning or estate administration attorney, whether or not you are considering Boz Law Offices. There are a lot of lawyers out there. What's a good first step in trying to locate a lawyer who is reputable and will take good care of you in doing estate planning and estate administration work.
Generally, when you're looking for an estate planner, you want to find somebody who specializes in estate planning. On the Internet you may find estate planners and you want to look for their "areas of practice". Some states have board certification, which means that the attorney has taken a very rigorous test and specializes in estate planning. But using the Internet to look for specialists with some kind of certification in the state that you’re looking for is a good first start.
How do you go about finding that particular information in the public realm?
Aside from the internet, another great place to turn is referrals from your friends and colleagues. And if in the past you’ve used an attorney for real estate or family law, divorce, and you were happy with that attorney, they can often give you referrals to good estate planning attorneys. When you do find someone, visit their website to get a feel for the kind of practice they do and if you're comfortable with them.
There are a lot of estate planning attorneys and it's important to vet those attorneys; and there are ways to vet those attorneys by just having some kind of interview process with them. Many attorneys will be able to sit down with you for 15 minutes or so and you can get a feel of whether you like them or not. And in estate planning, it is really important that you have that relationship since it is such a personal experience.
Do I Need An Estate Planning Attorney?
The first question to ask when selecting an estate attorney is “Do I need an estate attorney?” Unless you are experienced in the final administration of an estate, the answer is usually “yes.” Even what may seem to be the simplest will, where one where a spouse gives everything to the surviving spouse, still has to be filed with the probate court.
For most of us, we only see the inside of a courtroom once every decade or so when serving on jury duty. Having someone familiar with the ins and outs of how to probate a will can save you from wasting time, being frustrated and making costly mistakes.
Hiring your estate attorney.
Once you figure out the type of attorney you need, you then need to go about hiring an estate attorney. Here are a few tips to hire an estate attorney:
You don’t have to hire the first estate attorney you talk to. Personality matters. As an executor, you will have to work with the estate attorney, so make sure the estate attorney you hire is someone you trust and respect.
Ask about the fees. How will the estate attorney be compensated for her work? Will she charge you by the hour or is there a flat fee based on the will and size of the estate?
Ask about the process. Will you work with the person you are talking to or a team of people? If it will be a team, make sure you meet those people as well. Paralegals can play a significant role in this process – so meet them if they will be involved.
You may also want to let the attorney know you are using the tools on executor.org. Good lawyers appreciate informed clients. You can give your estate access to your account as you work through this process together, or independently use it as a way to make sure the process is moving as efficiently and smoothly as you would like. Our executor checklist is a great way to stay organized and provide updates to the estate attorney, which can also save you time and money.
We Can Help
Our attorneys and staff at Boz Law Offices provide a high degree of personalized service that focuses on each client’s individual circumstances, goals and objectives. We offer a range of services from simple to sophisticated estate and tax planning, business succession planning, and probate and trust administration, as well as related legal services such as beneficiary representation, probate litigation, and elder law.
We also assist clients in achieving their charitable objectives through establishing charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, charitable foundations and perpetual endowed funds. We also represent numerous nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations on a wide range of issues.
Our well-qualified and experienced staff provides complete estate settlement services which include preparation of probate filings, estate inventories, federal and state estate and income tax returns, settlement of creditors’ claims, and fiduciary accountings.
Get a Free Consultation with a Boston Estate Planning Attorney
If you need help with your estate, whatever stage it is in. Or have any questions at all, we are here for you and have offices in Natick & Boston, Massachusetts. Call us for a no-obligation consultation regarding your rights and options.
Call (617)785-0010 or send us an email!
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