Estate planning is a vital part of protecting your assets and wishes; however, choosing the right attorney in the first place is essential to making it a smooth, comfortable process. While our experienced attorneys are ready to help you with your estate plans, we hope to provide some information below to help you learn how to choose an estate planning lawyer in Florida.

What Does an Estate Attorney Do?

An estate attorney helps you discuss your goals for your assets and wishes, such as plans for minor children, minimizing estate taxes, powers of attorney, life insurance policies, and drafting estate planning documents. Estate planners have specific estate planning experience and knowledge of estate law.

Do I Need a Specialized Attorney for the Estate Planning Process?

While some people may be able to manage minor legal matters or legal documents, estate plans for even the simplest estates is worth the ease and expense that comes with a knowledgeable attorney. 

Additionally, it is always estate planning better to use an attorney for an estate plan (even if ‘minor legal matter’) to ensure you use the correct form and execute it correctly. Incorrect forms may be deemed invalid by the courts. 

Another reason to use an estate plan is to prevent the Florida intestate laws from determining who your beneficiaries are. If you don’t have documents, the law decides how your assets will pass to your children and/or dependents. 

Finally, you need an estate plan if you have a trust, own real estate, want to reduce taxes, want to avoid the probate process and want someone knowledgeable about your state’s specific laws to ensure your wishes are protected.

4 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Potential Estate Planning Lawyer

If you have decided hiring a legal professional is a good choice for your situation, you may wonder how to choose the person to help with these estate planning services. Below are 5 tips to help you narrow down some good choices for your situation.

  1. What are your specific needs? Identifying your goals for your assets makes it easier to ask the questions necessary to find someone with expertise in those areas. You may need help in specific areas such as updating an existing will or trust, establishing beneficiaries or guardianship, or reducing tax liability. Or, you may need help with the entire process from scratch.
  2. What is their reputation? As with other businesses, excellent service, helpful attorneys, and law firms tend to develop a reputation. Asking friends or family who they trust can give you peace of mind and a reference point for someone who will be a good fit to help with what is important to you.
  3. What/where is their expertise? Access to a wide range of options through an internet search is one way to search for legal counsel; however, with estate planning, it is important to make sure you choose an attorney who is familiar with and licensed in the state where you are located. Additionally, the attorney’s proximity is often helpful in the future if you need to adjust your plan and is easier for your loved ones after your passing.
  4. Do I feel comfortable with them? Even after researching and hearing the recommendations of friends and family, it is important to interview your potential attorneys. While this need not be a lengthy process, you can often tell a lot about your rapport with someone through a conversation to help ensure you are choosing the right person.

At the Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, we have numerous estate lawyers with excellent reputations and years of experience with estate planning both for specific needs and comprehensive plans. Please contact us today for legal advice or a preliminary estate planning meeting in Florida.