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Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney
The following is provided for informational purposes only and is not, nor should it be construed as legal advice.
With the advancement of technology, there are many online services which purport to help you create your own estate plan for a low cost without the help of an experienced attorney. However, doing so could create more problems for your family in the end, or could leave you with a Will that doesn’t work as you had anticipated. Usually, DIY Wills end up costing more than an estate plan designed by an experienced estate planning attorney.
What is an Estate Planning Attorney?
An Estate Planning Attorney is a licensed attorney with particular knowledge in the areas of Wills and Trusts. An estate planning attorney knows the specific laws related to drafting and probating Wills and understands the benefits and consequences of trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives.
Why you Need an Estate Planning Attorney
An Estate Planning Attorney will:
- Ensure your documents comply with current state law. Each state is governed by its own set of estate laws. Online Will programs may claim to conform to your state’s law, but this may not always be the case.
- Advise you regarding the titling of your assets and how to make proper beneficiary designations. A Will, on its own, is only part of a comprehensive estate plan. An estate planning attorney will explain to you how state laws, such as community property laws, intersect with your ownership of assets.
- Customize your plan. Estate Planning is not a forms practice. Each family dynamic is different. Each family owns different assets. Each family has different goals and desires. Your plan should be specific to your situation.
- Be a trusted resource for future questions and advice.
What you Should Know About Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney
When hiring an estate planning attorney, you should look for someone who is experienced in estate planning, and communicates thoroughly with you regarding your life details and goals. Being prepared for the initial consult is sometimes the biggest hurdle. If you can, you should gather the following to bring with you to the initial meeting: a list of your assets, information about the people who you want to name as your agents such as addresses and phone numbers, and a list of questions for the attorney. However, while being prepared for your meeting is ideal, it is not absolutely necessary. An experienced attorney will guide you through the process and ask questions necessary to develop a comprehensive plan. Many times, these questions can be answered later; your relationship and contact with your attorney should be continual and methodical.
If you are ready to take the next step in your estate planning journey, give us a call. Even if you don’t have all of the answers or know the right questions to ask, we are here to guide you through the process and ensure your goals are carried out.
Kristi Stanley is a 2009 graduate of South Texas College of Law. She concentrates her practice in the areas of estate planning, wills, trusts, probate, and real estate law. Mrs. Stanley is an associate with Currin, Wuest, Mielke, Paul & Knapp, PLLC (“CWMPK”) at Three Kingwood Place, 800 Rockmead Dr., Suite 220, Kingwood, Texas 77339. Besides the areas in which Mrs. Stanley practices, other attorneys at CWMPK concentrate their practice in areas of family law (including divorce and custody issues), litigation, employment law, business operations, and formation, and construction law. For more information, please call 281.359.0100 or see the CWMPK website at www.cwmpk.com.