Estate planning and Probate can be intimidating for the testator as well as for everyone involved. Challenges may arise, so having the right professional by your side is vital to resolve them correctly. A good case in point is a dispute between beneficiaries.
For all such unforeseen circumstances in estate planning, you must look for an estate lawyer who is experienced and tactful.
Moreover, not all estates follow one plan. Each will be different because everyone’s circumstances are different. Thus, when looking for an estate lawyer, you should ask all the right questions to find a suitable person.
Now how can a few questions tell you who the right person is?
1. Do you have other clients with a similar situation?
No two estate plans are the same, just as no two persons are alike. Thus, asking whether the estate lawyer has a client with comparable circumstances, is a good idea.
Some factors that may complicate an estate are as follows.
- having a domestic partner;
- children from a previous marriage; or
- a kid with special needs.
Each of these situations will push your case on a different path. Therefore, it is crucial that the estate lawyer you choose takes into account your individual requirements.
If he or she has similar clients, you can rest assured that your estate planning is in good hands.
2. Do you store the Will?
You might have heard at least once that someone was scouring their home for their deceased family member’s Will. It is common as the testator may choose to store their Will as they like.
Some may choose to give the original Will to their executor for safekeeping, while others may wish to store it with their lawyers (free of charge). Also, some people prefer to keep their Will with them.
Of all these possible situations, keeping the Will with a professional is the safest. However, not all lawyers provide this opportunity. This is why you should ensure your estate lawyer can store your Will.
If not immediately, you may want to hand over the Will to your lawyer at a later date, perhaps, due to illness. When you want that, you would need someone willing to handle it.
3. Do you conduct annual reviews?
Another crucial question to ask your lawyer is if they conduct periodic reviews of your estate. Some estate lawyers will check your assets annually for an additional charge and determine whether your Will needs to be updated.
This may be a crucial question to pose to an estate lawyer if you are someone who continually acquires sizable assets.
4. Do you handle litigation?
Litigations can complicate even the simplest of legal matters. Thus, it is better to expect it and prepare a contingency plan. It’s especially important in the case of estate planning. Because the testator won’t be there, there is a high chance of disputes between the parties involved.
Here are a few typical disputes:
- A beneficiary or relative can attempt to contest the legality of your Will;
- The beneficiaries may not agree on the best way to handle the estate’s assets;
- A benefactor or family member might submit a claim for further compensation;
- The executor could prolong the process of receiving a grant of probate.
Because estate conflicts are so frequent, it is critical that the estate lawyer you select to organize your estate also has experience with estate litigation.
5. How will you contact the executor?
This question is less important than the others but still important. It could even be a potential deal-breaker in some cases.
Say your lawyer communicates entirely through emails, but your executor is technologically lacking; there’s no point in having a lawyer. A communication gap will always endure.
Therefore, you should ensure that your lawyer is not limited to only one way of communication.
Bonus: Do I feel comfortable with this lawyer?
Most often, people ask all the right questions to their lawyers but forget to ask one deciding question to themselves.
That is if they are comfortable with a particular estate lawyer.
The lawyer you choose will deal with the planning and distribution of all your assets and liabilities. For that, you should be able to trust them and feel confident about their knowledge and experience.
If, for whatever reason, you don’t feel comfortable with the lawyer; it is better to move on.
Finding the right estate lawyer is vital to estate planning. Unless you ask the right questions—to yourself and the lawyer—it can be a long and tough process.
Don’t think that estate planning is a one-time process. It may take multiple updates to the Will, experience conflicts, or need a power of attorney.
We hope you found this questionnaire helpful in your search for an estate lawyer. Your search may begin by gathering recommendations from your accountant or other professional.
One recommendation from our side is Probate Consultants, the best professionals in estate planning and probate applications in NSW.
Book your free consultation with their professionals to ask any questions you may have about estate planning, Will dispute, or disinheritance.
It is understandable why the subject of Wills and estate planning could be unpleasant to even think about. Just the mere thought of us no longer being there is uncomfortable. However, it is an essential part you should oversee when you can for the sake of your estate and descendants.
That’s all for now. We hope you make the right choice!