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5 Questions to Ask Your Estate Planning Lawyer

By Jenny Tsay, Esq. | Last updated on

This post was updated on March 25, 2022

If you want to hire a lawyer to draft a will or trust, what questions should you ask before taking that step?

Having an estate plan in place helps ensure that your final wishes are carried out after you pass away. Beyond writing a will, estate planning attorneys can help you with tax, financial, and business planning.

So what questions do you need to ask before hiring an estate planning lawyer? Here are five questions you may want to consider:

Do I Even Need To Hire a Lawyer?

For many legal consumers, estate planning is unique in that it is an area of the law that you can do yourself if you have the right tools and information. Online services allow you to create a will, financial power of attorney, and health care directive.

But for those with more complex needs, hiring an attorney might be a good choice. This may be the right move for people facing a potential estate tax bill or those who want to set up a business succession plan.

What Are Your Fees?

Once you decide if hiring a lawyer is necessary, the most important question to ask them is what their legal fees are. Depending on the type of work you're requesting, there are several fee agreement plans a lawyer can offer.

For instance, if you only need to prepare a will, the lawyer may charge a flat fee for the service. For ongoing probate issues, the lawyer may charge an hourly fee.

Do I Need To Prepare Anything for Our Initial Consultation?

To help the attorney understand your needs, you may want to prepare a document listing your marital status, the number of children, special requests, and an inventory of your shared and individual assets. This will give the attorney a better idea of how to properly represent you and can even save you time (and money).

How Can I Make Sure My Plan Stays Up-to-Date?

Does the fee include regular reviews of my legal documentation? What if I need to make changes later? Often, families create an estate plan and think the task is finished, but that is not always the case. Any number of situations can arise that might have a bearing on your estate plan — a debilitating illness or injury, financial changes, etc. — and you may seek recommendations from an attorney who is familiar with your situation.

If I Have Complex Estate Planning Issues, Can You Answer All of My Questions?

While some people assume that estate planning attorneys only draft wills, many lawyers in the estate planning field also handle trusts, probate, and tax law, since those issues are related to a person's estate. If the attorney cannot answer all of your complex questions, he may be able to refer you to another lawyer.

Estate planning doesn't necessarily require hiring a lawyer. But if you believe it's necessary, it's important to hire an attorney who understands your needs. Asking your potential lawyer these five questions will help you determine if they are right for you.

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