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The Biggest Estate Planning Errors (According to Attorneys)

What to Look for in an Estate Planning Lawyer

Estate planning can be a complex process. Certainly, it involves much more than just filling out a last will and testament. Prudent estate planning may also encompass tax planning, life insurance, naming guardians for your children, filling out advanced medical directives, and more. To ensure that it’s all done properly, and that you are truly prepared for all contingencies, it’s wise to work with a skilled and experienced estate planning attorney.

Not all estate planning professionals are created equal, however, and it’s worth doing some due diligence to ensure you end up working with someone highly qualified. Here are some steps to consider as you seek the best estate planning lawyer to meet your needs.

Focus on Estate Planning

This may sound obvious, but one of the first things you should look for is a law firm that’s truly devoted to estate planning. What we mean by this is, don’t go with an attorney who only devotes a small section of their time to estate planning, and whose attention is being pulled in a million different directions. Choose someone who is a specialist in their field and devotes themselves fully to helping clients with their estate planning needs.

When interviewing a potential estate planning law firm, don’t hesitate to ask what percentage of their business is devoted to this field.

Look for Personalization

When it comes to estate planning, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach. Indeed, different individuals have varied circumstances to contend with, and myriad objectives to work toward.

A good estate planning lawyer won’t try to force cookie-cutter solutions on you. Instead, they’ll ask you questions, get to know your needs and goals, and propose some strategies that are tailored to your situation. This level of personalization is always something to look for in an estate planning law firm.

Seek a Spectrum of Services

Estate planning typically isn’t simple. Again, it’s much more than just putting a will in place. As you seek a good attorney, make sure you ask about the full range of services offered. Just a few examples include:

  • Tax planning
  • Gift planning
  • Trust administration
  • Advanced healthcare directives

You may also wish to ask if the estate planning lawyer can serve as trustee, if needed. Again, these are just a few examples of what you might need. The important thing is to find a law firm where you can have all your estate planning requirements met under one roof.

Look Locally

A small point, but a crucial one: Estate planning laws and ordinances can vary widely from one state to the next. If you live in California, it’s best to look for a California estate planning firm. You may know a perfectly nice and respectable attorney in Florida or New York, but without intimate knowledge of local laws, you may wind up with an estate plan that’s deemed invalid in a court of law. Don’t hesitate to ask your attorney how well they stay on top of local regulations.

Consider Communication

Your estate planning attorney is someone with whom you’ll need to reveal many private details of your life, potentially some intimate ones. As such, it’s critical to find someone with whom you feel comfortable; someone who puts you at ease and inspires trust.

Ask your attorney how they’ll communicate: How often will they reach out to you? And how can you reach them if questions or needs arise? Accessibility is something to prize in any estate planning lawyer.

Also, make sure you ask about cost/legal fees. The important thing here is that you’re given a straight answer. Transparency is always a good sign that you’re working with an attorney you can trust.

Talk to an Estate Planning Lawyer Today

As you seek a good estate planning law firm in California, we encourage you to contact Singh Law Firm. It’s our pleasure to help so many California families with these estate planning needs, and we’re always eager to sit down with new people, answer any questions, and better explain our services.

To set up a consultation with one of our will and trust attorneys, reach out to Singh Law Firm at your next convenience.

An estate planning lawyer is someone with whom you’ll work closely, communicating some of your heart’s desires and ambitions, and ultimately developing a plan to ensure your wishes are carried out upon your death. It goes without saying that, when it comes to hiring a wills, trusts, and estates attorney, you want to find someone with a high level of expertise as well as someone who inspires comfort.

So what are some of the things you should look for as you vet potential attorneys to help with your legacy and estate planning? Here are a few recommendations.

What to Look for in a Wills and Trusts Attorney

1) Seek someone with experience.

First and foremost, look for someone who has real experience in the estate planning world. The legal and financial implications of an estate plan can be deep, and you’re going to want someone with a real knowledge base. Don’t hesitate to ask your will and trust attorney how long they’ve been practicing in this legal field.

2) Ask how much time they spend on estate planning.

Some attorneys bill themselves as “estate planning lawyers” even when estate planning represents a very small fraction of their practice. You don’t necessarily want someone who pours 90 percent of their time into car accident cases. You want someone for whom estate planning is a primary focus.

3) Find someone who can help you minimize tax burdens and probate expenses.

When interviewing a wills and trusts attorney, ask about potential strategies for minimizing tax implications and keeping your estate out of probate court. (Most of the time, this will involve setting up a trust.) These are core concerns of the estate planning process, so make sure your lawyer can speak to them intelligently.

4) Also ask about living wills, healthcare directives, etc.

Another major aspect of estate planning is helping you codify your wishes should anything happen to leave you medically incapacitated. Seek a living wills lawyer who can speak to some of these legal strategies and provisions.

5) Make sure you’ll get to talk to your attorney directly.

Some firms are so big that you never actually get to talk with your lawyer, but instead work with them only through assistants and paralegals. It’s perfectly reasonable for you to want to talk with your wills and trusts attorney directly.

6) Ask about the fee.

It goes without saying that your estate planning lawyer will charge you a fee, and you have every right to know that fee in advance. Be wary of attorneys who seem unwilling to reveal their real cost, when you’ll be billed, how you’ll pay, etc.

7) Look for someone you feel comfortable with.

Customer service is important! At the end of the day, your living wills lawyer is someone with whom you should feel comfortable working closely with. If you just don’t like the person’s style, tone, or demeanor, that’s a perfectly legitimate reason to look elsewhere for your legal assistance.

Reach Out to an Attorney from Singh Law Firm

At Singh Law Firm, we are always happy to talk with potential clients about our credentials, our years of experience, our emphasis on estate planning, and the range of services we offer. Further, we’d love to talk with you about individualized strategies to help you achieve your goals.

To learn more about working with a wills, trusts, and estates attorney in California, reach out to Singh Law Firm today. Contact us to set up a consultation, and we’ll be glad to tell you more about how we can help.

An estate planning attorney is someone who helps you put the necessary structures in place to provide for your family even after your death. And, an estate planning lawyer helps you ensure that your own wishes are carried out with regard to end-of-life care. These are important, intimate roles, and can play a significant part in shaping your legacy. Naturally, you want to seek an estate planning lawyer who can provide you with the highest level of expertise.

Not all estate planning professionals are created equal, though, which raises a question: How do you find the right attorney to meet your needs? Allow us to highlight a few of the most important characteristics to look for in an estate planning law firm.

What to Look for in an Estate Planning Law Firm

1) Experience

First, as you interview potential lawyers, you should always ask about experience level. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with selecting a younger lawyer or a newer firm, but you may wish for someone with a longer track record of experience… and that’s certainly your prerogative. Don’t be shy about asking each attorney you interview how long they’ve been doing estate planning.

2) Focus on estate planning

As you look for an estate planning lawyer, make sure you’re truly getting an estate planning lawyer. What we mean is this: You should look for an attorney whose practice is devoted to this field of law. Some firms claim to offer estate planning services, yet 80 percent of what they do is business litigation, or personal injury cases, or real estate law, or something else. We recommend that you look for a firm where estate planning is a full-time focus.

3) Locality

We recommend finding a firm with local roots. This is important for a few reasons. One, estate planning laws vary from state to state; hiring a Missouri law firm is no use if you live in California. And two, you want to make sure your needs are being handled by a local attorney who can provide you with personal care and attention, not outsourced to some nationwide office. This helps ensure that your case is really taken seriously and given the consideration it requires.

4) Referrals

When meeting with an estate planning law firm attorney, don’t hesitate to ask for some references. Get the names of a few previous clients who will vouch for the firm’s commitment to detail. Be skeptical of any firm that’s reluctant to provide you with these contacts. Also note the presence of any testimonials or reviews on the firm’s website; these can be valuable, as well.

5) Customer service

Your estate planning law firm attorney is someone with whom you’ll work closely, on issues that can feel highly personal. As such, it’s important that you find someone who can provide you with a friendly, transparent, and personal level of service. If the attorney you’re dealing with rubs you the wrong way, if you don’t feel like they are taking your needs seriously, or even if you just don’t like their communication style… go with your gut. Find an attorney with whom you feel more comfortable.

Make an Appointment with Singh Law Firm

As you seek estate planning expertise in California, we encourage you to contact Singh Law Firm. We have many years of experience in the area and are focused solely on helping individuals and families with their estate planning needs.

If you have any questions about estate planning, we welcome you to reach out today and set up a time for a consultation with an estate planning attorney.

Estate planning involves a lot of sensitive, personal issues… issues like who gets your assets when you die, who will care for your children if you die prematurely, and what kind of life support treatments you would want to receive.

To ensure a robust estate plan that reflects your real wishes, it’s advisable to work with an estate planning attorney. If you’ve never sought an estate planning attorney before, however, you may not know exactly what to look for? We’re happy to provide you with a checklist:

Finding the Right Estate Planning Lawyer

As you interview someone from an estate planning law firm, here are a few things to inquire about.

  • Focus on estate planning. Ideally, your lawyer should be a specialist. After all, estate planning is complex, and you want an attorney who is immersed in that world day-in and day-out. Don’t settle for someone who devotes 90 percent of their practice to car accident cases. Instead, seek someone who is a full-time estate planning lawyer.
  • Experience in the field. Along the same lines you’ll probably want to find an estate planning law firm that boasts a respectable track record serving individuals and families.
  • Locality. Estate planning laws and regulations can vary quite a bit from state to state. For this reason, you probably don’t want to go with one of the big, nationwide firms. Pick a regional firm that knows the particulars of their area laws and legal provisions.
  • Comprehensive services. Think estate planning is all about making a will? Think again. You’ll want to find an attorney who can help you understand all the ins and outs of advance health directives, trusts, Powers of Attorney, and beyond. Make sure your estate planning firm can help you with a full range of documents, resources, and tools.
  • Tax planning. Another important part of the estate planning process is considering tax ramifications. Whenever possible, you’ll want to minimize your tax burden, ensuring your heirs receive the full benefit of the estate. Before choosing a lawyer, ask about tax strategies they might employ.
  • Reviews and testimonials. Always spend some time browsing the law firm’s online reviews and endorsements before you decide to hire them. While online reviews are not always trustworthy, they usually give you a pretty clear idea of whether the firm offers a satisfying client experience.
  • Referrals. Along the same lines: As you interview a firm, ask if you can speak with one of their other clients. Referrals and recommendations can reveal much about the firm’s quality of service. Don’t hesitate to ask for referrals, and don’t hesitate to follow up on those referrals.
  • Friendly, attentive service. Your estate planning lawyer is someone you’ll be working with pretty closely. As such, it’s important that you find someone whose communication style is appealing to you. If you meet a lawyer and simply don’t care for the way they present themselves, that’s reason enough to continue your search elsewhere.

Use these pointers to guide your search for a qualified estate planning law firm. And if you need someone who specializes in estate planning law in California, give Singh Law Firm a call.

Find an Estate Planning Law Firm in Fremont, CA

Whether you’re looking for a living trust attorney or simply someone who can answer your questions about the estate planning process, we hope you’ll keep Singh Law Firm in mind. We are proud to be one of the top estate law firms serving Fremont, CA and beyond. Reach out to us whenever you’re ready to schedule an appointment with an estate planning pro.


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