Top 3 Considerations When Hiring An Estate Planning Attorney


A shocking statistic is that over half of American’s do not have estate planning. Congratulations, here you are, searching a law firm’s website for estate planning attorneys.

Now, not all attorneys are the same. While we all went to law school and passed the bar exam of our given state(s), there are a number of different types of attorneys out there. When it comes to planning your estate, planning your finances, taxes, planning for incapacity or death, you should consider the following three items:


1. Focus and Experience.

Attorneys who focus on estate planning know how to ask tough questions and find out your goals. In other words, what drives you to set up your estate plan? It turns out that estate planning is more than just filling in a form with your beneficiaries. A good estate planning attorney will review the types of assets you own, your family situation, and tailor advice to your particular situation. For example, did you know that if you name a minor child as the beneficiary on say, a life insurance policy, then if you were to die while that child is still a minor, then a guardianship may have to be established by a court for someone to manage those funds until that child is eighteen?

Take Away: Consider looking for an Attorney who is Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate or who has been exclusively practicing in the area for a number of years.


2. Tax Law Knowledge

So people believe that estate tax is irrelevant because the federal exemption is so high.  But did you know the federal exemption reverts back to 5 million indexed for inflation beginning on January 1, 2026?  Estate Tax is just one consideration. What about State and Local Tax Matters? GST or Gift Tax? What about income tax consequences at a person’s death?  Another little-known fact is that irrevocable trusts and estates are also subject to income taxation and potentially a tax return filing requirement.

Finding an attorney with a firm understanding and deep experience in tax law is important because he or she will be able to review your assets and advise you regarding possible tax consequences or tax savings methods.

Take Away: Tax knowledge is key and should not be underestimated or dismissed.  Attorneys who are both Estate Planning and CPAs are an excellent choice.


3. Relationship Goals

This may sound hokey, but another one of the most important things to consider when searching for an estate planning attorney is finding an attorney who connects with you. Estate Planning is more than a one-time document signing, it evolves over time, it evolves with you. I mean, you will be (or should be) talking extensively about your goals and what needs to happen in order to achieve those goals. You will be sharing personal details, like your net worth, the types of assets you own, and your relationship with your family (or perhaps the lack of your relationship with your family).  In other words, you need to find an estate planning attorney that you feel comfortable sharing your concerns and the true reasons behind your plan.  It is only after learning and understanding you that we are able to determine the best plan structure to effectuate your intent and goals.


Take Away:  Consider someone who has enough life and practice experience to help you plan for what life offers, both good and bad.


The following is for informational purposes only, shall not constitute legal advice and does not constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. You should always consult with a qualified attorney.


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