When you are putting together an estate plan or making changes to an existing one, it is important that your attorney understand your individual aspirations as well as the intricacies of Arkansas state law. Even though almost any lawyer can draft a will or talk about rudimentary trusts, experienced estate planning attorneys are specialists who help create customized estate plans and also suggest better ways to protect your assets and ensure your loved ones stay protected after you are gone. That is why it is important to get to know your attorney before making a commitment.
Questions to Ask an Estate Planning Attorney
Here are some of the most important questions you should ask when talking to an estate planning attorney for the first time:
Are you an estate planning specialist?
While most attorneys study some aspects of estate planning in law school, many go on to specialize in other areas. You would not ask a welder to tailor a shirt or a tailor to repair a broken car part—similarly, you are best off working on an estate plan with someone who has made a career out of estate planning. Whether you are trying to write a will or establish a living trust, you will want an attorney who is intimately familiar with the individual and highly specific estate statutes in Arkansas.
How do you set your fees?
One of the most common questions prospective clients will ask a lawyer is regarding their fees. It is an especially important question for estate planning attorneys, who may maintain different fee schedules depending on the nature of a request. If you are executing an estate or moving through probate, your attorney may bill on an hourly basis; conversely, many lawyers will draft wills or prenuptial agreements for a flat fee. For more information about what we charge at Quraishi Law & Wealth, click here.
What do I need to bring for our initial consultation?
Your estate planning attorney may want to review your personal information during an initial consultation. You may be asked to prepare a document listing:
- Your marital status
- Whether you have any children
- Special requests or needs
- An inventory of your assets, whether held by yourself or shared with a spouse
Don’t worry if you are asked to detail your information—it will help your attorney understand your financial circumstances and estate planning ambitions.
What will you do after you draft a will or help me set up a trust?
It is not uncommon for attorneys to simply draw up estate planning documents and then leave clients to their own devices.
Ideally, though, your estate planning attorney should help you review and execute any legal instruments associated with your estate plans. If you have written a will, they should advise you on Arkansas’ probate policy; if you are moving assets into a trust, they should ensure you are transferring the correct assets into it.
Where are you licensed to practice law?
This question is especially pertinent for Arkansas residents—permanent or temporary—who hold valuable assets in other states. If an individual has a farm in Arkansas and a vacation home in Texas or Florida, then their attorney may need to be licensed in those states, too. After all, estate laws differ from one state to the next, and it is best to retain a single attorney who can meet your needs at home and further afield, too.
How often do you review estate planning documents?
Life is full of unexpected surprises, both good and bad. When your life circumstances change, your estate plan may need to be reviewed. An experienced estate planning attorney knows this and will want to ensure that your legal documents reflect the nuances of your unique, ever-changing life. A good lawyer will want to know about important life events, such as marriage, divorce, or a newborn child.
Likewise, Arkansas law—along with federal statutes—changes with time, too. A good estate planning attorney will make sure your plan keeps abreast of events in your personal life as well as the legal sphere.
Can you help me with all my estate planning needs?
If you only want to draft a will, then you may not need to ask this question. However, people with complex estates will likely have to do more than simply write a will. After all, a will does not shield potential heirs from probate, nor does it offer any tax incentives.
Your estate planning attorney should have the experience necessary to handle all of your estate-related affairs so that you are not forced to scramble between practices.
How can we communicate?
You should be able to reach your estate planning attorney whenever you need them. Of course, lawyers are only human, too—so when your attorney is not available, you should have the option of talking to an associate or paralegal to clear up any questions or concerns you may have.
Contact Us Today
Quraishi Law has years of specialized experience in estate planning and wealth management. As active members of our Arkansas communities, we understand not only our state’s estate laws but the hopes, dreams, and ambitions of our neighbors. No matter whether you have already begun planning your estate or need help drafting your first document, we are here to serve you.
If you are looking to get started on your estate plan, send Quraishi Law a message online or call us today to schedule your consultation.