NOTE: I am certainly not a lawyer and I’m not intending this to be legal advice.  Please consult with an attorney (as this article recommends) before making any estate planning decision.

Estate planning cannot be ignored when it comes to the importance of both saving and legally protecting your assets, especially in the face of economic uncertainty. Making the decision to plan for the future of your estate is not only responsible – it is essential. The planning needs to be done in an orderly and professional manner for the long-term safety of your weath.

Seeking the advice and services of a highly qualified estate planning attorney is the first step you should take in securing your estate for your family in the years to come. Due to the constantly changing landscape of estate and tax law, it is important that you look for an attorney who is a specialist and experienced in the field of estate planning.

Can Any Lawyer Do it?

Many people falsely assume that any lawyer can cover the basics required for estate planning.  They think it’s essentially  filling out documents and ensuring their legality.  Crossing the T’s and dotting the i’s.  However, this is not so.

Proper Legal Representation is Crucial for Estate Planning

Proper Legal Representation is Crucial for Estate Planning

Any lawyer can fill out the necessary documents, but you would be missing out on the expertise that a specialist could give you regarding the ins and outs of estate planning.

Going to a generalist for your estate planning needs would be like going to a general practice physician for expert advice on a neurological problem: A general practice physician could certainly give you advice, but a neurologist who has had extensive experience with cases just like or very similar to yours would be able to give you much better advice.

When you want expert advice, you seek the counsel of an expert in the field. It should be the same when you are looking for an attorney to help you with your estate planning needs.  Geographical differences may apply as well, since state and local laws can differ from place to place.  For instance, San Francisco estate planning attorneys may differ from New York or Philadelphia, so make sure to consult with a local expert.  Below I’ve listed a few attorneys that I’ve dealt with from a few different cities (I did my own estate planning on San Fran along with my parents in NYC).

What about Online Wills?

Online services like Legal Zoom have become very popular in recent years, and especially during the recent pandemic, as people were both concerned about their families future and unable to visit a lawyer in person.  However as many lawyers have noted, you should beware online wills, as they aren’t all they are cracked up to be.

Not only don’t online wills necessarily have all the details of your locality, but the fundamental fact is that a poorly executed will is worse than no will at all.

So cookie-cutter approaches are extremely risky, and should be avoided.

What to Look for in an Estate Lawyer?

In addition, when looking for the right attorney, keep these questions in mind:

  • How long has he/she been in practice?
  • How much experience does the attorney have in the area of estate planning?
  • Does he/she offer you helpful suggestions that you feel a generalist could not offer you?
  • Do you feel like you could have a good rapport with him/her regarding even your most personal concerns relating to your estate? Estate planning can involve divulging a great deal of confidential (and sometimes embarrassing) information. Having estate planning attorneys you can trust is important.
  • Lastly, if you don’t already have relationshiop with the attorney, what does your gut tell you? Sometimes our instincts know a lot more than we might expect.

Researching and Searching for an Attorney

Whenever necessary, visit online websites for more information on estate planning tips before you start off. There exist plenty of resources online that are comprehensive in providing information on wills, revocable trusts and solutions on personal wealth management.

A little bit of information can be dangerous, so don’t try to become a lawyer overnight.  You merely want to be able to hold an intelligent conversation with the attorney, and perhaps spot any errors or BS that they might throw at you.

My Recommended Estate Lawyers

Johnston, Kinney & Zulaica – San Francisco

Estate Lawyer NYC – New York City

Ultimate Goals with Estate Planning

It doesn’t matter if your goals for estate planning are short-term or long-term, distinguished estate planning attorneys are better placed to guide and walk with you all through the planning process. they will inform you on the best options available to incorporate in your plan.

A properly drafted plan should be able to foresee the possibilities of scuffles arising in future and provide remedial measures to curb the situation. The remedies must have the support of the legal documents for validity should they be needed.