Hi, Lorie Burch here, your go to Wills & trusts attorney. I know many struggle in how to choose the right attorney to help with Wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and estate planning. So here are a few tips on how to pick a GOOD, if not GREAT, Wills & Trust attorney.
FIRST it’s not the internet!
The first thing you should do when choosing an attorney to draft your Will is ask if estate planning is at least 50% of their practice. There are far too many attorneys who “dabble” with writing Wills and that causes attorneys like me and clients like you almost as many headaches as online forms. For example, our practice is about 98% estate planning and probate. That’s not saying an attorney needs to be “board certified” for this type of work. But the best ones have this type of law as a main focus of their practice.
The second thing you should do when choosing the right attorney, is ensure that they also practice probate. If they don’t know how Wills get interpreted by the court, then they have no business drafting these documents, in my not so humble opinion. I have become a lot better at drafting through understanding how various courts may interpret language and legal clauses.
Another factor I would look at when choosing a Wills & Trust attorney is if they will guide you on how to make sure your beneficiaries of life insurance, retirement, and financial accounts are set up in a way that will work with your wishes. Beneficiary designations override what a Will says and you want to make sure that everything will go to whom you want in the way you want it! For example, you do not want to name a child under 18 as a beneficiary on those type of assets, a good attorney will guide you as to why and what alternatives you have.
Finally, when choosing a firm to draft your Will, make sure you ask if they will help you with ensuring your documents get signed appropriately. I know that seems crazy. If it’s not signed properly, it’s not valid. Texas requires you to sign in the physical presence of two witnesses. Even though I’ve seen some “online notary services” provide witnesses who appear via video conference, that will not hold up in court. We have very strict guidelines on having people sign in our office or we provide detailed instructions and guidance on how to arrange themselves.
I could go on and on about what makes a GREAT Wills & Trust attorney, but these are some of the factors I would encourage you to look into when you are making this important decision for yourself and your family.
Naturally, at Burch Law we fit all this criteria and more, so contact us if you would like a complimentary consultation.
And remember: if you don’t have a Will, the state of Texas has one for you!