3 Questions To Ask An Estate Planning Attorney BEFORE You Hire Them to Draft Your Will, Trust, or Estate Plan
We never know when we’ll die...
What we’ll own when we die…
What our family dynamics will be when we pass away, and what the law will be at the end of our lives.
Which is why making a personalized family protection plan is so incredibly important.
Typically an attorney is the best asset you can use to help build a Will, Trust, or comprehensive Estate Plan that will keep your family out of probate court, saving them $10,000s in legal fees, countless hours in court, and ensure that your assets and property pass on smoothly to the people in your life you care about the most.
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But not every attorney is experienced in drafting Wills, Trusts, and Estate Plans and many people aren’t sure what questions they should ask to identify if a lawyer is experienced or a novice.
Mistakes can be costly when it comes to protecting your family, which is why I wanted to equip you with some useful questions you should ask any attorney you are looking to hire BEFORE they draft your Will, Trust, or Estate Plan.
Q. How will you make sure my plan is personalized to my specific needs?
A. When we see clients with defective Wills, Trusts, and Estate Plans, it is almost always because they purchased a fill-in-the-blank form which was not tailored to their particular needs...
This is often because the client purchased a “pre-drafted” plan online, or because they hired an attorney who did not take the time to understand the client’s needs.
When you go to the doctor’s office, the doctor doesn’t show you a medicine cabinet and tell you to take your best guess which medicine to take.
Yet that’s precisely how online “Will Factories” (and sadly many law offices) operate.
Instead, you expect the doctor to use his professional judgment to develop a treatment plan, in consultation with you, that is specialized to your situation.
That’s important because everyone is different, and you are trusting the doctor with your health.
Estate Planning works the same way.
You are developing a plan to protect your family, preserve your lifetime accumulation of assets, and guide your loved ones through one of the most difficult trials they will ever face.
There are few decisions that are more important.
What’s more, your family situation is unique, your asset portfolio is unique, and your goals are unique.
You don’t want a generic “one size fits all” plan any more than you want to be forced to guess which provisions to include.
Unfortunately, some companies will take your money and then ask you to do exactly that – to be left to hope and wonder whether you made a critical error that could devastate your family.
We treat every Will, Trust, and Estate Plan like we are protecting our own families.
It is a decision that should be treated with seriousness and gravity.
It’s not a task that should be delegated to the inexperienced or reduced to a faceless internet transaction.
That’s why every plan we offer is completely personalized to your family’s individual needs.
We will develop a plan in consultation with you during our in-depth Estate Planning Consultation.
We then offer you unlimited access during the drafting process.
Until we sign your documents and conclude our representation, you may call us anytime, ask as many questions as you like, and make as many changes to the documents as you would like – all free of charge.
We are here to make sure that it’s not just done, but that it’s done right.
Q. Will your office handle the signing ceremony that makes my Will, Trust, or Estate Plan legally binding?
A. Many law offices (and nearly all of the online do-it-yourself companies) do NOT handle one of the most important aspects of drafting a Will, Trust, or Estate Plan – the signing ceremony...
There are a number of extremely complicated rules, regulations, and formalities that must be followed when signing your estate documents.
If your documents are not properly signed, witnessed, and notarized etc., the entire plan is invalid.
Why pay good money for a comprehensive plan only to render it invalid at the end?
It’s like buying a great novel without the last chapter or a car without the wheels.
We don’t want you to pay for a plan that will be invalidated because of a technicality.
That’s why we handle the signing ceremony for you, free of charge, in the comfort of our office.
We coordinate and schedule the witnesses, provide a notary, and ensure that all the proper formalities are honored.
What’s more, we promise that your documents will be legally binding when we sign or we give you your money back.
Q. Do you offer flat fee pricing?
A. Most attorneys bill by the hour...
Billing rates vary anywhere from $150 per hour on the low end to $800 per hour on the high end.
The going rate in Oakland County hovers between $250-$350 per hour.
As you might guess, this can lead to some unpredictable and surprising bills.
After talking to you and learning the particulars of your situation, any attorney experienced in drafting Wills, Trusts, and Estate Plans should know (generally) how long it will take to draft your plan.
In other words, they shouldn’t have to bill you by the hour.
If a lawyer doesn’t offer simple flat fee billing, it may be a warning sign that he or she does not have much experience with drafting these types of documents.
We’ve drafted thousands of Wills, Trusts, and Estate Plans over the years, which is why we are able to offer flat fee pricing for all of our packages.
Plus, we don’t like surprising our clients.
We will draft you a custom plan, specialized to your precise needs, and you will know exactly what the cost will be up front.
No surprise hourly billing, no hidden fees, no hidden charges.
What’s more, we allow our clients to get started now and pay over time!
Still have questions about what documents you need to protect your family, money, and property from crippling legal expenses and relationship ending court battles?
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Written By Chris Atallah - Founder, Rochester Law Center, PLLC
Written By Chris Atallah - Founder, Rochester Law Center, PLLC
Chris Atallah is a licensed Michigan Attorney and the author of “The Ultimate Guide to Wills & Trusts – Estate Planning for Michigan Families”. Over that past decade, Chris has helped 1,000s of Michigan families and businesses secure their futures in all matters of Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning. He has taught dozens of seminars across the State of Michigan on such topics as avoiding the death tax, protecting minor children after the parents’ death, and preserving family wealth from the courts and accidental disinheritance. If you have any questions, Chris would be happy to answer them for you – just call at 248-613-0007.