Choosing a Texas estate planning attorney may seem daunting at first. This is someone you will trust to handle your possessions and your life’s savings for the remainder of your life, and beyond. Your Texas estate planning attorney is someone you need to be able to trust to be looking out for your best interests.
In addition to someone you trust, you need to find a lawyer who has the background, qualifications, experience, and expertise to best meet your needs.
When you begin searching for a Texas estate planning attorney, start by getting recommendations from people whose opinion you value - your family and friends, a financial advisor, or a lawyer who might not practice in the area of probate and estate planning.
Next, do some research online to learn about the lawyers who are on your “short list.” Look at their websites to get a “feel” for who they are and what they’re about. Look at the Attorney Bio pages to learn about the individual lawyers at a particular firm, and to get a sense if they’re the right person for you.
Once you’ve narrowed it down, schedule a phone consultation or meet with the lawyer in person.
As you narrow your search for the best Texas estate planning attorney for you, consider that an estate plan is an evolving document that will grow and change as your family changes and as your estate planning objectives evolve. Unlike a bankruptcy or criminal case, where the lifespan of the case is comparatively short, your estate planning lawyer is someone who should come to be part of your long-term inner-circle of advisors.
Also, remember that just because a lawyer is licensed to practice in the state of Texas doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be the best lawyer for your needs. Just like you don’t want a podiatrist performing open heart surgery, you don’t want a criminal defense lawyer preparing your Will, Powers of Attorney, and Trust.
To help you find the best Texas estate planning attorney for you and ultimately decide which lawyer to hire, here are some basic questions you can ask over the phone or in your initial consultation:
Trust. The foundation of the attorney-client relationship is trust. When discussing your estate plan, you need to feel comfortable sharing intimate details of your life with your lawyer. Of course, your lawyer has professional duties of responsibility to you as a client, or even as a potential client, to keep matters discussed within the context of the attorney-client relationship confidential. In the long-run, it will be easier for you and your lawyer if you share any uncomfortable details up-front - that way your lawyer can take steps to plan for them. This is a better position to be in than to be surprised by something that you should have told your lawyer.
Experience. You also want to know that your lawyer has handled cases similar to yours. Ask how much of their practice is devoted to probate and estate planning, how many estates they have handled, at what stages, and how large those estate were. A lawyer who has experience not just planning your estate, but also handling an estate through the probate process will have the necessary knowledge and experience to anticipate potential pitfalls and problems.
Cost. Make sure you understand how you will be charged. Depending on the complexity of your estate, some lawyers will charge a flat fee for basic estate planning services, while others may charge an hourly rate. In other cases, a hybrid fee agreement is best, where a lawyer might charge a flat fee for basic estate planning, then charge an hourly rate for additional services or future modifications to the original estate plan.
Attention. Finally, you want to be sure that your attorney will give you the attention that you need and deserve. In some larger law offices you may have an initial meeting with a partner, then be handed off to a younger, less experienced associate. That’s not the case at Schultz and Kellar, PLLC. As a small, boutique law firm, we offer personalized attention to all our clients.
Your life is more than just your estate plan. Make sure you work with a lawyer who understands that, and can offer complimentary services to help you realize your financial goals.
At Schultz and Kellar, in addition to traditional estate planning services, we are one of only a handful of law firms in Texas that also offers financial planning services in addition to probate and real estate transaction services. This allows us to offer holistic advice to our clients, providing assistance with a comprehensive plan to maximize your wealth, minimize tax liability, and pass a financial legacy on to future generations using not only your liquid assets, but also your real estate holdings, as well.
Schultz and Kellar, PLLC is one of a very few law firms that can provide holistic planning services by offering both estate planning and financial planning services. By working with a team of planners who understand both the acquisition and distribution of wealth, we can meet you where those two disciplines intersect, offering a holistic planning perspective that is designed to help you grow your wealth, protect it, and ultimately distribute it.
If you have questions about estate planning, contact Schultz and Kellar today. From our offices in Southlake, Texas, we are proud to serve clients throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Call us today at (682) 268-0782, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete our online form.