If you have yet to take the time to create your estate plan, you need to make the time to do so. Despite understanding the importance of estate planning, over half of all Americans do not have an estate plan in place. A comprehensive estate plan does more than simply decide who will receive your estate assets when you die. When properly drafted, an estate plan should guard and grow your assets during your working years, help protect you and your loved ones during your Golden Years, and ensure that loved ones are provided for when you are gone. The first step toward finally creating your estate plan is to find the right estate planning attorney for you and your needs. Ultimately, only you can decide which attorney to work with on your plan; however, the following steps may help you choose the right estate planning attorney for you.
- Ask Friends, Family, and Co-Workers. When it comes to selecting an attorney to represent you in almost any type of legal matter, asking friends, family members, or even co-workers for a referral is often the best, and easiest, way to find a good attorney. You are bound to know several people who have had reason to retain the services of an estate planning attorney in the past, either during the creation of their own estate plan or for any of several other reasons. This means the individual has first-hand knowledge that can be invaluable. You can hear how the attorney communicates with clients, the type of cases he/she handles, and a variety of other information straight from a client. For these reasons, asking people you know for a referral is always a good place to start.
- Check Attorney Associations. Another excellent place to look when trying to find the best estate planning attorney for you is local, state, and national attorney associations. For example, the “Find a Lawyer” program is a service of the North Carolina Bar Association that helps people who are in need of an attorney locate the right attorney for their needs. On the national level, the American Bar Association can also be helpful when searching for an attorney. Since you are specifically in need of an attorney who can help you create an estate plan, the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys may also be a good source of information for you.
- Use the Internet Wisely. In the 21st century, it is rare for an attorney not to have a significant internet presence. Although you should never rely entirely on the internet when choosing something as important as your estate planning attorney, you can certainly do a substantial amount of research on the internet that can help you narrow down your search. You could, for example, search specifically for attorneys in your desired geographic area or for attorneys who speak a specific language. You can also review attorney websites for important information such as how long the attorney has bene practicing and/or what percentage of his/her practice is devoted to estate planning matters. Using the internet wisely can definitely help you in your search for the right estate planning attorney.
- Schedule and Prepare for Consultations. Once you have narrowed down your search to three or four of the best options it may be time to schedule initial consultations. Most estate planning attorneys offer initial consultations so you should not have to invest any money at this point in your search. Your initial consultation will likely appear to go by very fast. With this in mind, you should prepare ahead of time by making a list of your most important questions and concerns for each attorney. Putting your questions and concerns in writing ensures that you won’t forget any of them when you are actually at the consultation.
- Choose an Attorney. After your consultations it will be time to choose an attorney. Consider all of the information you have gathered to date, the answers to any pertinent questions you asked, as well as your general impression of the attorney and his/her staff. Your estate planning attorney will help you with some of the most important legal documents you will ever prepare so you should be comfortable with the attorney you choose.
Please join us for one of our . If you have additional questions or concerns about creating or using a Power of Attorney, the experienced North Carolina estate planning attorneys at Clarity Legal Group® by calling (919) 484-0012 to schedule an appointment.