I want to create an estate plan, but I’m not sure how to find and choose the right attorney. What do you recommend? Also, how much does an estate plan cost?
Hiring a lawyer can be a tough decision -- you want to make sure that the person you’re working with is professional, experienced and that you can afford them. Plus, you want someone who’ll clearly explain all of the ins and outs of the estate plan to you.
First, ask around for recommendations, check your state or county bar association, or search for lawyers on the Internet. Then interview a few attorneys to get a feel for their practice: Ask them if they’ll provide you with a free initial consultation. Finally, choose a lawyer based on their experience, what kinds of services they provide, if you feel comfortable working with them and, of course, if their fees are right for your budget.
Want to know what type of pricing to expect? It’s common practice for attorneys to charge flat fees for estate planning services, so you can ask for an estimate of the total amount. Of course you’ll want to know exactly what’s included. Be sure to ask:
1. Could I end up paying any fees besides the flat fee you’ve quoted me?
2. Do you charge for additional questions I may have after I create my estate plan with you? What if I call you with questions a year or two after?
3. Will you notify me of changes in the tax or legal code so that I know if I need to make updates to my plan?
4. Does the planning fee include a regular review of my plan?
5. Do you have an estate planning maintenance program or membership for ongoing service?
Once you find an attorney you feel comfortable with, make sure you read your retainer agreement (the contract for your lawyer’s services and fees) carefully and express any questions or concerns with your attorney. Remember, the retainer agreement is negotiable!
Plus, more from The Bump:
Do I need to update my estate plan now that I’m pregnant?
What’s the difference between a will and a trust?
Can I create a will online?