Searching for an Estate Attorney

Six Questions to Ask

Estate planning may not be the most comfortable topic, but it can help to ensure loved ones are cared for and to minimize adverse tax consequences, difficulties, and expenses. For these reasons, an experienced attorney is invaluable in preparing an estate plan. These questions and what to listen for in the responses may help you narrow your search and prepare for your first consultation.

1. What percentage of your time is spent on estate planning?
Whether they have multiple clients or work on complex estate plans, experienced estate attorneys spend considerable time advising clients on their affairs and ultimately working with their beneficiaries. Depending on your situation, engaging an attorney who focuses primarily on estate planning might be important.

2. Do you charge for an initial consultation?
Many attorneys will meet with you for the first time for free. This is a good opportunity for you to make sure you're comfortable with the individual who may represent you on very personal matters. If you feel rushed or your questions go unaddressed, then the attorney might not be a good fit for you.

3. How do you bill?
Attorneys bill at either hourly or flat rates, so get clarification and a quoted fee or estimate before moving forward.

4. Should there be a periodic review of my estate plan?
Whether you're welcoming a new grandchild or selling property, situations change. Attorneys with estate planning expertise often recommend a periodic review of their estate plans. Be sure to ask if you will be charged a different rate for reviewing the plan than what you paid for setting it up.

5. What will I need to do to make sure our future meetings are as efficient as possible?
Effective estate planning attorneys will share how you can best prepare for your meeting, including gathering information about your assets and thinking about the choice of guardian, attorney in fact, health care surrogate, and personal representative.

6. What documents will you prepare for me?
A typical estate plan might consist of a will (and possibly a living trust), a durable power of attorney for financial matters, and a "living will" for healthcare matters.

Including a bequest to Johns Hopkins in your estate plans allows you to maintain control of your assets during your lifetime while ensuring Johns Hopkins remains a global leader in research, patient care, and education for generations to come. Learn more.