March 28, 2017

Estate Plan Tips: What Questions Should I Ask an Estate Planning Attorney?

Trust / Estate Attorney Walnut Creek

Estate planning is essential if you want to secure your long term financial goals, health care needs, and the security of your loved ones. A well-crafted estate plan can address potential complications before they arise, taking the chance out of your financial future, and giving you full control over how your assets and healthcare are managed.

When you are looking for a trustworthy estate-planning attorney, here are some basic questions you can ask:

What is your experience with Estate Planning and Trusts?

This question will give you a sense of how familiar the tax attorney might be with your estate planning needs. If they are able to talk at length about the benefits of estate planning and how they have seen it work in the past, that’s a great first sign. Follow up with questions about their experience and any expert opinions they are willing to share.

Why do I need an Estate Plan?

This is a basic question that an estate planning attorney should be able to answer based on their understanding of your current situation. They should offer suggestions for how you can provide for your loved ones, ensure that your assets are managed to meet your wishes, and more. It’s a good sign if an estate-planning attorney asks as many questions as they answer.

Is an Advance Healthcare Directive or Durable Power of Attorney right for me?

Asking more specific questions about the components of an estate plan is a way to develop understanding of how your estate-planning attorney will approach your specific needs. An Advance Healthcare Directive (AHD) ensures that your healthcare is handled the way you wish in case you are unable to advocate for yourself. A Durable Power of Attorney is another document that allows someone to step in to handle your finances, gather your mail, etc., in the event you are not able to do these things for yourself.

How do we avoid probate and set a program for long-term success?

An experienced estate-planning attorney will be familiar with the probate process, trust administration, and how to avoid pitfalls. Not only do you want to have an estate planning attorney that does everything they can to avoid probate, it is also helpful to know they can help you out if you or a loved one’s estate needs to be administered through the probate court.

How regularly should we review my estate plan?

Estate plans can become stale over time due to changes in your life, or even changes in the law. That means you should have a plan for reviewing your trusts and other estate planning documents. Each estate planning attorney will have a slightly different standard, and you should feel confident about your attorney’s plan for keeping up with laws as they change, and for ensuring that your estate plan is always working hard for you and your loved ones.

Overall, an attorney’s advice should make you feel confident that your assets and trusts will be handled with care. These questions should give you a good sense of how well an estate-planning attorney will work for you.

Christina Weed of Mendes Weed, LLP has worked with clients in San Francisco, the East Bay, and throughout the United States. As a licensed attorney with an LL.M. in Taxation from the University of San Diego, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy, Christina offers a unique combined focus on Trusts & EstatesTax LawTax Litigation, and Business Law. Christina is Chair of the Tax Section of the Contra Costa County Bar Association and is also a member of the Estate Planning Council Diablo Valley and the Tri-Valley Estate Planning Council.

Contact Mendes Weed, LLP today for help with your Estate Plan or Trust.

Disclaimer: The tips and materials provided on this page are for informational purposes only, offered as public service. No information on this website should be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, you should contact an attorney directly.