Searching for an Estate Planning attorney can evoke anxiety and seem overwhelming. But, choosing the right lawyer to walk you through this process can be one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your family. So, to help you get through the initial dread of choosing an attorney, we have come up with 5 things to consider when hiring.
While the knowledge and technical abilities of the lawyer are extremely important, discussing death, incapacity, and other frightening life events requires a special and personal level of trust.
You will want to make certain that you are able to connect with your attorney on a very human level so that you can discuss intimate topics. You will want a person who treats you like family, using their education, knowledge and expertise to guide you through your options and educate you sufficiently to make the best choices for your family. At the same time, you will want someone who provides you with stable legal guidance. It’s important that before you hire someone, you understand how the attorney runs their business, how they work with clients and, most importantly, whether you feel you can trust them.
Following are some questions you can ask when looking for the right Estate Planning professional. How the lawyer answers these questions should help you determine how you feel working with them, how they approach planning with clients and, ultimately, whether you feel you can trust them to guide you through the best choices for you and your family so that your greatest concerns are met through the process. The goal is to hire someone that you and your family can rely on and trust.
No. 5: Legal Fees
One of the first questions that many people want to know the answer to is, “how much is this going to cost me”? No one likes to be surprised by bills!
There are two main ways that Estate Planning attorneys bill. The primary way that Estate Planning lawyers have traditionally billed is charging you by the hour. An attorney’s hourly rate is typically very high. Some charge as little as $150 an hour while others can charge $1,000 or more per hour and, the charges are in hourly increments starting at one-tenth of an hour (.1). If an attorney is charging you by the hour, they will typically charge you for, not only their time, but also their paralegal and/or legal assistant’s time. These bills can grow quickly!
The other way to bill is as a “flat-fee” for a project. When this is done, the client needs to read the contract carefully to be sure that there aren’t hidden fees such as charging for copies, telephone calls or other communications and other miscellaneous services. Be certain that the attorney fully explains their billing process and that you read the contract when hiring so you don’t have any surprises.
At Bromlow Law, PLLC, we have clearly defined flat-fee Estate Planning services with no surprises for outside fees. Our flat-fees are all inclusive, including everything from telephone calls, copies, recording or filing fees, plus more. If anything is ever outside the scope of the flat-fee, we let you know ahead of time before the cost is incurred.
educate us about your family dynamics and assets, and then you choose the right plan, at the right cost, for the people you love.
No. 4: Attorney-Client Communication
A majority of attorney complaints are related to lack of communication or responsiveness. As a client, this is unacceptable when you are paying a significant fee for their services.
Most attorneys are overworked and undereducated about how to run a business. Many have not learned how to put the right support systems in place and don’t have the necessary processes to properly communicate with, and respond to, clients.
It’s important for you to understand what processes and support systems the attorney has in place to make sure that your matter doesn’t fall through the cracks and that you will be responded to when you need their attention.
Its okay to ask how quickly calls or emails are responded to and whether the attorney has help in addressing communications. Ask what will happen to your matter if they become ill or something unexpected happens to them. If the lawyer appears to have practical and thoughtful answers to these questions, it is likely that they will be able to respond to you in a timely manner.
We will cover additional considerations in choosing your Estate Planning lawyer in “part 2” of this blog.
This article is a service of Bromlow Law, PLLC and Laura L. Bromlow, your family’s lawyer for life. We provide legal advice and guide you through making educated and empowered decisions about life events for you and your loved ones. We offer a Love & Legacy Planning Meeting, where you gain clarity on your finances and we guide you through making the best decisions for you and your loved ones. At Bromlow Law, PLLC, we are dedicated to the practice of Elder Law and Estate Planning. Our practice is comprised solely of working with clients in these and closely related legal fields. Laura L. Bromlow is a Certified Elder Law Attorney with the National Elder Law Foundation. We strive to enhance communication among family members and loved ones and to keep them all out of conflict so they can stay out of court. We want to help you keep your close circle safe! You can reach us at (281) 665-3807 or Info@bromlowlaw.com. Call our office today to schedule a Love & Legacy Planning Meeting and mention this article to find out how to get this $700 session at no charge.