Creating a comprehensive estate plan is one of the most important things you will do during your lifetime. When done properly, your estate plan will ensure that your loved ones are well provided for in the event of your untimely death as well as distribute your assets pursuant to your wishes. If not executed properly, it can wreak havoc with your finances and fail to provide the protection for your loved ones that it was intended to do. Given the importance of your estate plan, the first step in creating one should be to retain the assistance of an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney. Ultimately, only you can decide which estate planning attorney to hire; however, there are a number of things that you may wish to take into consideration when making your decision.
Naturally, the amount of experience an attorney has should play a role in your decision. Estate planning is often complicated, particularly if you have an extensive estate. Be sure to ask potential attorneys how long they have been practicing law when you sit down and speak to them. Length of time practicing, however, is not the only important factor. The focus of the attorney’s practice is of equal importance. Because estate planning is a specialized area of the law, you should look for an attorney who focuses his or her practice on estate planning and related fields such as elder law and estate administration. Just as you would not want a dermatologist to treat you for cancer, you do not want a criminal law, divorce, or personal injury attorney to assist you in planning your estate.
Finally, look for an attorney who shares your vision for your estate plan. The more complex your estate plan is, the more time you will be spending with your estate planning attorney. Make sure that the attorney you retain understands what your goals are and is willing, and able, to make them happen.