We are in the middle of a pandemic. It is scary, no doubt, and it is forcing many of us to contemplate the unpleasant notion of “what might happen if I get sick?” or “what might happen to my family?”
Yet, before spiraling into doomsday scenarios, remember that it is always a good idea, as you get older and build a family, to plan your affairs so that, in case something happens, you have already provided clear instructions on how your assets and affairs will be handled. If you don’t have a last will and testament, or an estate plan, then now is a good time to get started on that project.
Once you have decided that you will make sure that you have a will in place, or you have decided to update an old will you drafted years ago, the next question becomes: “who is the right attorney for me?” That question is the topic of this week’s blog.
In this blog, we will cover the top 4 factors you should consider when deciding on an estate planning attorney. Of course, you may know someone, or you may ask a friend of a friend about attorney recommendations. But be careful not to settle with an attorney who does not specialize in probate and estate planning just because you happen to know that person. It is well worth your while to take a little time to make sure that you have found the right attorney for your estate planning needs.
In that vein, we welcome you to consider meeting with us at Doane & Doane, PA. We are Palm Beach County probate and estate planning attorneys who are ready to assist you, even during this challenging time. Please can contact us at 561-656-0200 or fill out our online contact form. Let us help you plan your future with proper estate planning.
Tip #1: No Need to Limit Yourself by Location.
There may be a number of attorneys that are located close to you, but that should not limit your search. Particularly now, with everyone staying at home, and working remotely, you can obtain legal representation from literally anywhere, and you can speak to those attorneys right from the comfort of your own home.
The only thing you really need to worry about is making sure, if you live in Florida, that your attorney is admitted to practice in Florida.
Tip #2: Look for Attorneys who Truly Focus on Estate Planning.
When lawyers graduate from law school, they are allowed to practice any area of the law. For most lawyers, their ultimate area of specialty is not the area that they thought they would end up practicing. Private attorneys, particularly those in small practices, tend to become experienced in the area in which they initial gather their most clients.
That is all to say that there are attorneys who are less seasoned in a particular field, yet will be willing to handle a case in an area that is less familiar to them. Not to disparage attorneys in general, but you want to make sure that the attorney handling your last will and testament has been doing estate planning for the majority of their careers.
The practice of estate planning requires a certain facility with a complex area of the law and a special attention to detail. So, it is a good idea to research an attorney’s website to see how much of their practice is estate planning.
Tip #3: Publications and Professional Organizations
Part of the practice of law is remaining current on the latest legal developments and trends. The law changes all the time, and it is key that your attorney is on top of any changes that are relevant to the world of estate planning.
For example, Florida just passed a law allowing electronic execution of wills. The law came into effect on January 1, 2020, changing a long-standing tradition on how wills are handled in Florida, dating back centuries. Thus, if an attorney with whom you consult does not know about that recent change in the law, you may want to consider other options.
The best way to know, from researching websites, whether an attorney is remaining current in his or her field is to see if the attorney has any published works and/or is a member of a professional legal organization. In that vein, Randell C. Doane and Rebecca G. Doane, the founding partners of Doane & Doane, wrote a book titled “Death & Taxes, The Complete Guide to Family Inheritance Planning,” Ohio University Press. That is a good indicator of their dedication to the practice of estate planning.
Tip #4: Have a Meeting to See if You Get Along
Many attorneys provide an initial consultation free of charge. Take advantage of that opportunity to see if you have a rapport with the attorney. Remember, when it comes to estate planning you will be sharing many intimate personal details about your life. You want to be sure that you are working with an honest attorney with whom you feel comfortable sharing all of that personal information. Even if it is on a phone call or video conference, you will still be able to get a feel for whether you can work together.
While there are other factors that you should also keep in mind – size of firm, and of course, the attorney’s fee, these four tips should get you started on your search.
Doane & Doane May Be the Palm Beach County Probate and Estate Planning Attorneys for You.
Many clients seek the assistance of the Palm Beach County probate and estate planning attorneys of Doane & Doane, P.A. to help them make the right decisions for their family’s future.
Moreover, the founding partners of Doane & Doane are board-certified West Palm Beach Probate Attorneys. With the additional advantage of certified public accountancy in their backgrounds, they present a unique combination of skills and experience which enables them to effectively settle, administer, and manage clients’ trusts and estates.
In short, at Doane & Doane, we have the resources and experience to help you understand all aspects of the estate planning process. Doane & Doane’s estate planning attorneys in Palm Beach, FL can be your South Florida legal guides.
At Doane & Doane, we are prepared to give you sound, accurate advice. If that is something you need based on your circumstances, then we can reliably ensure the transaction will be handled properly. Call the Palm Beach County probate and estate planning attorneys at Doane & Doane today, at 561-656-0200.