YOUR WILLS TRUSTS ATTORNEY: 5 THINGS TO LOOK FOR
I’ve practiced law for 15 years and, aside from knowing the law, I have a good idea of what to look for in an attorney.
Here are 5 Things To Look For In A Wills Trust Attorney:
- THEIR KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE SHOULD BE OBVIOUS RIGHT AWAY.
This may seem obvious but because many attorneys practice in several areas of the law, there are many estate attorneys near me that also handle divorces, bankruptcy and personal injury cases. Your wills trust attorney O’Fallon, however, should work exclusively in the areas of wills, trusts and probate matters. Like every area of the law, estate planning work is nuanced and any wills trusts attorney you meet with should make you feel comfortable about their level of expertise.
A good website to review the practice areas of an attorney is www.avvo.com. There you can see what the attorney has personally listed as their practice areas. If you see a “wills trusts attorney” stating that they practice 20% estate planning, 80% maritime law, you might want to keep researching.
- THEY SHOULD HAVE SUPPORT STAFF.
There was a time when I was a young solo practitioner that I had very little (none actually) help around the office. Creating wills and trusts is very detail specific work and your chosen wills trusts attorney should have staff that can assist him or her with your powers of attorney and other documents.
At our office, for example, I have several sets of eyes to look at documents. Very often after I’ve created a document and even edited it several times, my paralegal will find an obvious error. Then I’ll fix the error and while re-editing for a final look through, I will find something else wrong. Details, details, details. Without my staff, I can’t be nearly as detailed as I need or want to be.
- THE ATTORNEY SHOULD NOT BE PUSHY ABOUT A SPECIFIC PLAN.
Numerous times in my career I have met with an individual or couple who have told me that another attorney was insistent that they create a Missouri trust or do Medicaid planning with their estate plan. What I’ve learned over time with clients is that my job as a wills trusts attorney to sit down with them, listen to their fears and goals, evaluate their particular family and financial circumstances and combine all that analysis into a recommended estate plan.
However, some clients (a small percentage actually) will not follow that advice and ask me to create an estate plan that does not meet all of their needs or, sometimes, even offer what I would consider adequate protection.
The bottomline is that it’s their choice. If you meet with a lawyer who is pushy about anything, then you should get a second opinion. Not everyone needs a trust, but also not everyone wants a trust.
- YOUR ESTATE PLAN SHOULD BE DONE FOR A FLAT FEE.
If I had to survey all of my wills trusts attorney colleagues, I would guess that 95% of them do estate planning on a flat fee rather than an hourly basis. And I recommend that you only hire a lawyer who works with flat fees. The fact is that flat fee work is better for the attorney AND the client.
The client knows what the final cost of the project is right away and flat fee work encourages attorneys to work efficiently. That doesn’t mean cutting corners, that means training staff well, having an organized office and, having a system in place. After all, since the attorney is working on a flat fee, lost time due to inefficiency is not going to be paid for by the client.
On the other hand, hourly fee work encourages inefficiency, which the client pays for, not the attorney. Estate planning = flat fee work. Period.
- THE ATTORNEY SHOULD ASK YOU A LOT OF PERSONAL QUESTIONS.
Your initial consultation with the wills trusts attorney should be a chance for him or her to a) review information you completed about your finances, health, children and life and b) to use the information to ask specific questions about the information provided.
For example, when I sit down with a potential client, I always know before I sit down what their children’s names are, where they live, how old they are, where they live, if they’re married and if they have children.
If you meet with a wills trusts attorney and he spends know time asking you the details of your goals and fears about estate planning or the lack of it, or doesn’t ask anything about the family dynamics or dive into your assets and values, it’s hard to see how they can recommend a solid living trust plan for you.
These are all the details that are required to come to a conclusion, hopefully by the end of the meeting, as to what you need in your specific estate plan and how that plan solves your fears and worries, accomplishes your goals and protects your family.
For more information about Missouri last wills and testament, click here:
For more information about Missouri revocable trusts, click here:
Contact Legacy Law Center today to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION to discuss the estate plan that makes sense for you. Our office can be reached at (636) 887-5297.