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Top 5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your Estate Planning Attorney

Hiring a lawyer to help you create an estate plan can be one of the most empowering choice you ever make for yourself and your loved ones. The right lawyer will be there for your family when you can’t be, so you want to understand who the lawyer is as a person, not just an attorney.

Here are five questions to ask to ensure you receive an estate plan that will actually work when you need it.

01 | How Do They Bill For Their Services?

The first question to ask isn’t “how much does it cost,” but rather, “how do you bill for your services and how do you determine what to bill for your services?”

Look for an attorney who bills for all their services on a flat fee, no surprises basis —and never hourly. Your lawyer should be able to determine a flat fee for their services after they learned about your family, assets, and specific needs.

02 | How Will Your Lawyer  Respond To Your Needs On An Ongoing Basis?

A frequent complaint about working with lawyers is a lack of responsiveness. Ask your attorney how quickly calls are typically returned in their office and if someone will be on-hand to answer quick questions when and as needed.

Ideally, all calls to your lawyer should be pre-scheduled with a clear agenda, so you both can be ready to focus on your specific needs.

03 | How Will Your Lawyer Communicate With You On An Ongoing Basis?

Unfortunately, often times people buy an estate plan and never hear from their attorney attorney. As a result, if you’ve created an estate plan in the past, you may not have realized that estate planning means a lifetime of wise legal and financial decisions, not a one-and-done kind of thing.

You want to work with a lawyer who will keep your documents current and ensure your assets are owned correctly and protected throughout your lifetime. Your estate planning attorney should have an ongoing relationship with you and your family with regular communication.

04 | Can You Call About Any Legal Problem Or Just About Matters Within Their Specialty?

It is so important that you hire an estate planning attorney who specializes in that area of law. You should NOT work with a lawyer who is a "generalist" and handles any and all legal issues.

You do, however, want your lawyer to have broad enough expertise to consult with him or her about all sorts of legal and financial issues that may come up in your life—and trust he or she will be able to offer you sound guidance about whether you have a legal issue, or not.

You should be able to consult with your lawyer before you sign any legal documents, any time you have a legal or financial issue arise, or whenever anything that might adversely affect your family or business comes up, and know that you’ll get excellent guidance. And while your lawyer will not be able to advise you on all legal matters, he or she should be able to refer you to other trusted professionals who can help you.

05 | What Happens When They Die Or Retire?

This is a critically important—and often overlooked—question to ask your lawyer and any service professional before beginning a relationship. Sure, it may be uncomfortable to ask. A client-centered professional will have a succession plan to ensure their clients are cared for no matter what happens to the lawyer managing your plan.

Look for a lawyer with a detailed plan that will ensure that someone warm and caring will take over your planning without any interruption of service.

A Lasting Relationship

Hiring the right estate planning lawyer is one of the most critical choices you can make for yourself and your family. This is the individual who will serve on your behalf to protect and provide for your loved ones during one of life’s most emotionally challenging experiences.

At Whipp Law, we are passionate about creating a relationship with you and your family that lasts a lifetime. Our unique, family-centered, flat free, communication driven legal services are specifically tailored to provide our clients with the kind of love, attention, and trust we’d want for our loved ones.


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