Aug 31, 2022 Questions to Ask an Estate Planning Attorney
How do you know which estate planning attorney to work with?
You might think that all estate planning lawyers are one and the same, but the truth is that an experienced estate planning attorney can provide you with a reliable plan that best serves your needs and matches squarely with your priorities.
Because estate planning sometimes involves legal instruments unfamiliar to most clients, it’s important to have trust that your estate planning lawyer is knowledgeable about what’s right for you and your family, and that they are up to date on all current and pending laws relevant to your purpose.
Questions that will help you choose the right estate planning attorney:
Is Estate Planning the Main Focus of Your Law Practice?
Making an estate plan that fits your and your family’s needs requires a thorough understanding of all aspects of estate planning law, trusts, wills, special-needs law, Medicaid regulations, probate practice, tax laws, and more. Only an attorney with extensive experience in estate planning and tax law should be trusted with the responsibility of ensuring that your decisions regarding health and financial matters are executed properly.
You don’t want your family to be your lawyer’s “test case.” Hire a professional estate planning lawyer.
How Long Have You Practiced Estate Planning Law?
There’s no substitute for experience. Like every profession, years of practicing a lawyer’s craft produces a level of expertise that can’t be earned by taking shortcuts. While a less experienced lawyer might perform a task with basic competence, an estate planning lawyer with many years of experience can apply hard-earned experience to deliver results with artful precision, avoiding pitfalls that may create problems for your family in the future, and providing tax and other savings that are in many cases transformative.
What Is Included in an Estate Plan?
An estate plan can include different components, depending on your needs, the nature and extent of your financial assets, the complexity of your wishes, and age and size of your family, and other factors. A young newlywed expecting their first child may need to plan for possible guardianship and security for their child, and their children to come. But, an older married person without children might want to focus on their future healthcare, their eligibility for Medicaid, or to provide for their surviving spouse while gifting assets remaining at their spouse’s death to a favorite charity.
A skilled estate planning attorney will want to know everything they can about you and your wishes so they can construct the estate plan that achieves your goals most efficiently.
How Much Will an Estate Plan Cost?
Every trustworthy lawyer will welcome your questions about attorney’s fees. No consumer should be hesitant to ask, “how much will it cost?” If your attorney fails to explain exactly how their fee schedule works, or is vague about what they might charge you, then find another lawyer. At the same time, it may be impossible to quote a precise price until the lawyer learns exactly what you need and what you want.
- Do you need or want documents authorizing someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself?
- Do you need or want to grant power-of-attorney to someone who can manage your financial affairs if you become incapacitated?
- Do your family and financial circumstances call for a simple Last Will and Testament and/or Trust? Or do you require a more complex set of trusts or other instruments because of the nature and value of your assets, or because of your wishes to distribute your estate in a particular manner?
Can the Lawyer Help You Qualify For Medicaid for Long Term Nursing Home Costs?
Part of estate planning includes working with individuals and families to preserve and protect their financial assets when possible and still permitting them to legally qualify for public benefits to which they are entitled, including Medicaid.
Medicaid and other programs like Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income provide valuable benefits to disabled individuals and finance otherwise ruinously expensive long-term nursing home care and community-based personal care assistance. With proper and timely estate planning, many people can protect the assets that they have accumulated over a lifetime from Medicaid repayment claims and still receive full Medicaid benefits when they may need long-term care, whether at home or at a health care facility.
Are Taxes Considered in My Estate Plan?
Tax planning is a major part of the work an experienced estate planning attorney provides. Both federal and state tax laws need to be fully understood when constructing the strategy best for each client. While the current federal individual estate tax exemption level is very high in 2022, the exemption is scheduled to be reduced to less than half this level in 2026.
New York has an especially punishing estate tax system requiring your estate planning lawyer to include measures that prevent your family from needlessly paying avoidable taxes.
Another major tax law issue involves the rules applying to inherited retirement plan funds under what is called the SECURE Act.
Monitoring these and other tax laws and how they affect each individual client’s situation is an important focus for a skilled estate planning or elder law attorney.
E.J. Rosenzveig & Associates Can Answer All Your Estate Planning Questions
E.J. Rosenzveig & Associates is focused exclusively on estate planning for people from every background. Our estate planning attorneys have extensive experience working with elders and with those planning for their elder years. Our expertise enables us to handle the most complex issues involving any type of trust as well as to effectively represent parties in contested probate litigation. We have the tax knowledge, as well, to best serve our clients’ needs on all fronts.