Few things are more important for your end-of-life planning than putting into place the right estate plan for your needs. To get the right plan, however, you have to have the right lawyer to help you develop your estate strategy and create the necessary documents. That means that you need to have a way to determine which of the many attorneys in your area is best suited to handle your estate matters. If you’re wondering how you can find the best Fort Myers estate planning attorney to help you with your estate plan creation, these tips can help.
Find an Attorney whose Primary Focus is in This Area of Law
Not all attorneys specialize in the same areas of law. You should be looking for someone who has knowledge about estate planning techniques and strategies to ensure that your plan can meet your needs. Of course, this may not be as important a concern if all you want is a simple will, or if you don’t have many assets to manage. However, for anything more complicated than that, you will be best served by someone whose practice is focused on estate planning.
Be Sure to Ask About Service Fees
Some people are reluctant to ask about things like attorney fees, but you shouldn’t be hesitant at all. The fact is that attorneys want you to know how much they are going to charge for their services. When you don’t ask, good attorneys will end up raising the subject at some point anyway. You can save yourself and the attorney time by simply addressing the issue in an upfront way. Ask about how you will be billed, and whether the costs are based on hourly rates or flat fees for services provided. Most of today’s attorneys use flat estate planning fees for their clients. You will still need to find out exactly what those fees cover so that you’re not surprised by any unexpected costs later in the process.
Does the Firm Offer Regular Reviews?
You also need to make sure that your lawyer will be there for you should changing circumstances require alterations to the plan. Keep in mind that some attorneys limit their services to the drafting of your initial plan and provide no follow-up in the future. Other lawyers, however, may offer follow-up services that periodically review your plans with you to take into account life changes that might require some changes to keep your estate plan relevant to your situation. Those reviews are often used to analyze the funding of trusts and other important issues. Since life changes happen with regularity, it is a good idea to find an attorney who will be there for you on a regular basis.
Is Financial Advice Provided as Well?
If you have an investment broker or accountant who provides you with regular financial advice, then this factor may not matter to you. For anyone who doesn’t have such assistance readily available, however, an attorney who can offer some level of guidance about issues like insurance and retirement or college planning can be an invaluable resource. This may not be a deal-breaker for you, but it is always good to find out just what types of advice you can expect to receive.
Your estate plan is not something that should be managed by an inexperienced attorney. Instead, you should only entrust the creation of your plan to someone who has the experience needed to best protect your interests. Attorneys with many years in this field will not only have experience in creating the necessary documents, but will also have had many opportunities to see how those estate plans work when their clients pass away. Those attorneys can be relied upon to know what works and what does not work, and will be able to more accurately design the type of plan you need.
Will the Attorney Assist You in Properly Titling Assets or Funding Trusts?
It’s the little details that often cause an estate plan to fail, like failing to properly title assets or fund trusts. While some attorneys are satisfied to just create a seemingly sound plan and leave their clients to address titling and funding issues, the best attorneys know that their clients may need additional assistance in those areas. Be sure to ask the attorney about those concerns and find out whether he or she also offers assistance in ensuring that all of those details are properly managed. The best attorneys often view these details as critical components of the estate planning process, and work with you to make sure that all of your assets are structured to your benefit.
Be Sure That You Feel Comfortable with Your Fort Myers Estate Planning Attorney
Finally, you must be comfortable with the person you select to assist you with your estate planning. Estate planning is a long-term endeavor, and involves sharing intimate details about your personal life and finances with the attorney handling your plan. If you do not feel absolutely comfortable with any given attorney, chances are that you may be less than forthcoming with those details. Never make the mistake of hiring an attorney if your personalities seem to be at odds. Remember, lawyers are people too but they are also professionals. A good attorney will always understand if you simply feel like another lawyer might be a better fit for your estate planning needs.
Obviously, there is more to hiring a great estate planning lawyer than just randomly picking an attorney’s name out of the phone book. Finding the best Fort Myers estate planning attorney requires a careful comparison of your needs and the options available to you in the area. For Fort Myers residents, Barbara M. Pizzolato, P.A is often the first choice for estate planning solutions. Her years of experience handling estate plans both large and small have provided her with the expertise and insight clients in the area need when they want to guarantee that their end-of-life concerns are properly addressed. To find out more about how she can help you with all your estate planning needs, contact her online or give her a call at (239)-225-7911.