If you want to draft a will, create a trust, or prepare a power of attorney, you will need to work with an attorney. An attorney is the only professional licensed to write legal documents. Look for one who specializes in estate planning or elder law. Complex estates such as those with investments, real estate, and/or business assets may require consultation with family members and financial management, tax, and legal experts.
Finding an Attorney
- Ask people you know if they can refer you to a good attorney. Friends, local business owners, or professionals such as accountants, financial planners, or bankers may be able to recommend attorneys who specialize in estate planning.
- Ask for referrals from lawyers. Most lawyers specialize in several areas of law. If a lawyer tells you he/she does not handle estate planning, ask him/her to refer you to someone who specializes in it.
- Look for duplicate referrals—that is, attorneys who are recommended to you by more than one source.
Another way to locate an attorney is to contact your state’s bar association and request a lawyer referral. Bar associations do not rate attorneys, but they exclude from their lists lawyers who have had excessive complaints about them. You can find members of the American and state bar associations on the American Bar Association’s Lawyer Locator Website, http://www.abanet.org/lawyerlocator/searchlawyer.html.
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III. Power of Attorney: Planning for Incapacity
IV. Property Transfer: Documents and Legal Arrangements
VII. Personal Representative: To Carry Out Your Wishes
VIII. Gifting and Tax Strategies
X. How to Hire and Work with an Attorney
- a. Attorney Ratings
- b. Interviewing Prospective Attorney Candidates
- c. Deciding What to Include in Your Estate Plan
- d. Preparing a Checklist for Meeting with an Attorney
Prepare Your Estate Plan belongs to a series called Legally Secure Your Financial Future. The series also includes information to help you organize important household papers and to communicate your health-care wishes.