At some point in your life, you’re going to need to start giving serious thought to a variety of end-of-life concerns. The fact is that tomorrow is always uncertain, and none of us can expect to live forever. And that means that we all have to take some sort of action to plan ahead and ensure the well-being of our loved ones. For some, that means making out a will, a living will, and powers of attorney. For others, asset protection and other needs might necessitate even more complex estate planning efforts. Regardless of the type of plan you’ll need, one thing is for sure: you need a competent lawyer to help you. To ensure that best results, you need to know how to find the right Florida estate planning attorney.
Focus on Your Needs
First of all, understand what you’re trying to accomplish. If all you want is a way to ensure that your belongings go to the right people when you die, then your needs will probably be pretty simple. You may not need all of the additional estate planning services that the best estate planning attorneys can provide, since you may be able to get by with just a simple will and powers of attorney to protect your interests against incapacitation.
If, on the other hand, you have more complex needs and want to really take care of your family now and in the future, then you’ll have other concerns that need to be addressed. You may need a trust to gain more control over your tax liability, provide for a child with special needs, or even ensure that your beloved pet is taken care of when you die. You may need comprehensive financial planning, business planning, or retirement planning. If you have any real financial assets now, then you want that wealth to work for you to ensure that you can retire when you need to. Since about 50% of us can expect to need nursing home care at some point in our lives, you may even want to consider Medicaid planning so that you can pay for that care when the time comes.
Once you identify your basic objectives, you can begin to look for an attorney who can provide the assistance you need to develop a plan to reach those goals. That attorney should be able to help you with a wide variety of concerns:
- You need a lawyer who can help you evaluate your situation and determine the best course of action for your estate planning. The best attorneys will work with you to create a customized estate plan that uses every appropriate tool and strategy to meet your objectives. You’re an individual, and a one-size-fits-all approach just won’t do the trick.
- Make sure that the attorney you choose has experience in all of the relevant areas of planning you need to reach your goals. If your objectives require competent financial planning but your attorney’s expertise only covers the estate plan creation side of the equation, then your plan will be on shaky ground right from the start. You need a comprehensive plan from an attorney with a comprehensive set of skills.
- Verify that your attorney’s services extend beyond the document-creation process. Estate plans are not things that should just be drafted and then left to their own devices. They involve strategies that must be tested, evaluated, and adjusted over time to achieve maximum results. To accomplish that, you need to know that your attorney will be working with you on an ongoing basis.
- If you are using a trust in your estate plan, be sure to ask if the attorney will help to ensure that it gets properly funded. When trusts fail to achieve the grantor’s goals, it is usually because assets are not properly transferred to fund them. Ask your attorney if he or she provides assistance to guide you as you retitle property and transfer ownership.
- A good attorney should be available to help you with other important issues in the future, like insurance, retirement accounts, and similar legal matters. Obviously, you don’t need an attorney to sell you insurance or sign you up for a retirement account, but those policies and accounts must mesh with your overall estate plan. As a result, you should look for a lawyer who can provide reviews of those types of documents before you sign them, to ensure that they won’t be disruptive to your overall estate planning efforts.
- Look for an attorney with an estate planning package. While there is nothing wrong with billing-by-the-hour, it is often preferable to have some sort of flat-fee rate or retainer in place due to the ongoing nature of the planning relationship. Of course, every situation is different, but if your attorney offers a flat-fee for services that is usually a positive sign.
- Make sure that you are comfortable with the attorney you are hiring. Remember, your estate plan is something that will need to be revisited and revised over time, so there is no sense hiring a lawyer if you’re incompatible with one another. Keep in mind that lawyers want you to feel comfortable with their services, so most would rather have you choose someone else if that basic level of trust and comfort isn’t there.
Give Us a Try
At Kulas & Crawford, Medicaid & Estate Planning Attorneys, our team of legal experts have the wide-ranging array of skill sets that you need to meet all your most pressing estate planning needs. We handle a wide variety of elder law, financial planning, and estate planning issues for our clients in the area, and can work with you to identify the best strategies to help you meet your goals. Most importantly, our team will be there to help with your asset protection and legacy planning concerns even after the ink is dry on your comprehensive plan. If you’d like to meet with us and discuss your unique needs, dreams, and goals, contact us online or call us today at (772) 398-0720.