When you’re ready to start estate planning, your first step is selecting the right lawyer to help you draft a legally valid will and other documents. There are many experienced attorneys in Goodyear, AZ, but how do you find the perfect fit for you?
Find out how to choose an estate planning attorney who suits your needs, understands your goals, and makes you feel comfortable throughout the process.
Important Qualities in an Arizona Estate Planning Attorney
Finding a qualified attorney is easier if you know what you’re looking for. It’s useful to keep the following list in mind when shopping around for estate planning lawyers.
1. A Focus on Estate Planning
Choose a lawyer who focuses on legal counsel for estate planning and one or two related fields, rather than a generalist. You’ll want a lawyer who has already helped many people create wills, establish trusts, set terms for transferring assets, and avoid probate.
If you have specific goals, you might want to look for an attorney with experience in this precise area. For example, if you need to secure the future of a loved one with special needs, you’ll want to look for an attorney who is proficient in setting up special needs trusts.
2. Excellent Communication
Estate planning is far more than a technical process. It starts with understanding your personal goals: do you aim to avoid family conflict? Protect an adult child’s inheritance? Make sure your end-of-life care answers your wishes?
Competent estate planning lawyers are good communicators. Your lawyer should take the time to listen to you and map out what you want to achieve with your estate plan. Then they will proceed to explain your options, like which type of trust you may choose to set up, and walk you through every step of creating your estate planning documents.
3. Attention to Detail
An estate plan is a set of documents that may include your will, trusts, powers of attorney, and advance directives. You need an attorney who will make sure these documents align and provide maximum clarity on your wishes and decisions.
If you already have an estate plan but are looking to revise it because of a change in your family situation, like marriage, divorce, or adoption, your attorney should help you adjust your estate plan and make sure it fits your new goals.
Here’s another important point on our list of tips for choosing an attorney: beware of any estate planning lawyer who makes exaggerated promises, tries to cut corners, or dodges your questions. A trustworthy attorney will give you a clear picture of what your estate plan can accomplish and invest as much time as necessary in creating your will, trust, and other documents.
5. Local Reputation
Check out your prospective lawyer’s reviews. What do former clients say about them? Did they have a good experience working with this lawyer? Did the attorney handle their estate plan with a personalized, client-centric approach?
Any lawyer may have the occasional negative review, but you should probably avoid a law firm if many of its clients point out a specific problem.
Last but not least, it’s advisable to work with a local lawyer who understands Arizona estate planning laws and can easily accommodate in-person consultations.
The Estate Planning Lawyer Selection Process
Once you know the qualities you’re looking for in a lawyer, let’s dive into the practical steps of how to choose an estate planning attorney.
1. Start Looking
If people you trust can personally recommend an estate planning attorney, that’s a great place to start looking for prospects. Otherwise, you can search by your location, for example, “estate planning lawyer in Goodyear, AZ.”
Look through attorneys’ websites and check out their areas of practice, information about the legal team, credentials, and any awards. Read client testimonies on the lawyer’s site and reviews on their Google My Business page.
2. Schedule a Consultation
Once you have short-listed your candidates, start contacting estate planning attorneys. You may need to consult several lawyers before you settle on one who feels like the optimal fit.
Some estate planning law firms offer initial free consultations. You can take advantage of that to meet as many lawyers as possible. Prepare for your consultation with a list of questions for the lawyer, for instance:
- How long have you practiced estate planning?
- Does your law firm also practice related fields, like elder law or tax law?
- Do you know how to handle estate planning for large estates?
- Do you have experience with estate planning for blended families?
- What happens if I need to update my estate plan?
3. Interview the Lawyer
Meeting your prospective attorney in person will help you decide whether this is a legal professional you’d feel comfortable working with. Estate planning is highly personal, and you may need your lawyer’s help with navigating sensitive family matters.
Look for a lawyer who is deeply invested in your interests and ready to work hard to ensure you have a detailed, comprehensive estate plan. Your estate plan should cover everything from end-of-life care to transferring the right assets to the right people.
Trust your instincts. If something about the attorney or law firm just doesn’t feel right, or communication isn’t flowing smoothly, you might consider looking for a different lawyer.
4. Check Agreement Terms
A reputable estate planning lawyer will give you a quote or explain their billing terms, so you’ll know exactly how much you’re going to pay for their legal services. Fees can vary between different estate planning law firms, so you might want to make a few comparisons before you sign an agreement.
Start Your Estate Plan With Lincoln & Wenk
Now that you know how to choose an estate planning attorney, it’s time to consider common questions to ask when making an estate plan. Contact us at Lincoln & Wenk to start working on a comprehensive plan to help you preserve your legacy, provide for your loved ones, and gain peace of mind.
Call (623) 294-2464 or submit our online form to schedule a consultation today.