When to Hire an Estate Planning Attorney 1

When should I hire an estate planning attorney? This question is often asked when it comes to hiring an estate planning attorney. Hiring an estate planning attorney is a crucial step that can help ensure that your assets are managed and distributed according to your wishes should you become incapacitated or after your death.

So, as long as you possess an estate [real estate, stock, vehicles, cash, and stocks], you need to work closely with an estate planning attorney. Before we explore situations that call for the services of an estate planning attorney, let’s first define what they are all and what they do.

What is an estate planning attorney?

An estate planning attorney, also known as an estate law attorney or probate attorney, specializes in helping individuals create legal documents that outline their wishes regarding the distribution of their assets and care for their dependents.

An estate planning attorney knows state and federal laws that may significantly impact how your estate is listed, valued, distributed, and taxed after your death. If needed, they will also correctly inform you about the probate procedure.

Things that an estate planning attorney can do

Here are a range of the things that an estate planning lawyer can do for you:

  • Draft a Will and identify the beneficiaries

One of the most significant roles of an estate planning attorney is to help you draft a Will. Even though these days you can easily find a Will template online, it is not the best option since people’s lives, families, and assets can hardly fit in a predefined template. So, it is good to opt for a handwritten Will. However, crafting a Will involves following strict guidelines you might not know. So it is best to let a professional do it for you. This is where an estate planning attorney comes in. With their expertise, knowledge, and experience, they will write you at legally sound Will.

  • Update and modify your plan whenever needed.

Of course, an estate plan is bound to change over time. That’s because there will be changes in circumstances over time, including a divorce, the birth of a child, a marriage, a change in health, a change in assets, a transfer out of state, etc. When any of these happens, you will need to update and modify your estate plan; this is where an estate planning attorney will come in handy.

  • Helps you ensure that you are prepared for death scenarios

An estate planning attorney can also help you ensure that you are adequately prepared for death scenarios in which you cannot make your own decisions. This typically involves assigning power of attorney, choosing an executor, etc. A good estate planning attorney can serve as a legal guide through all the aspects of preparing for death.

Situations where you need an estate planning attorney

Here are crucial situations that require the services of an estate planning attorney:

  • When you have complex family situations

Even though we all imagine family as a simple setup, it may not be as simple as such, and may come with complexities. One of them is having complex family situations such as blended families, special needs dependents, or even estranged family members.

If you have blended families with children from different marriages, an estate planning attorney can help ensure your assets are distributed fairly and according to your wishes. This is critical in preventing family disputes that may arise among family members once you are no longer there. It also ensures that all children are treated as you intend.

An estate planning attorney can also help you set up a special needs trust to provide for your dependents with special needs without disqualifying them from government benefits. Lastly, if you have an estranged family member that you wish to disinherit, an estate planning family member can assist you with that.

  • When you have large assets

Suppose you have significant assets, including real estate, investments, and business interests. In that case, an estate planning attorney can come in handy to help you manage estate taxes and ensure that your wealth is safeguarded for future generations. On the other hand, if you have a business, the attorney can also help you create a succession plan to ensure that the business continues smoothly even when you are no longer there.

  • You wish to establish an irrevocable trust

An irrevocable trust is a type of trust that, once established, cannot be altered, amended, or terminated by the grantor without the consent of the beneficiaries or by a court order. The grantor transfers assets into the trust, surrendering ownership and control. This type of trust offers significant benefits, including reduced estate taxes, protecting assets from creditors, and ensuring that the assets are utilized according to the grantor’s wishes.

Drafting irrevocable trust can be quite challenging and should be left to a professional, in this case, an experienced estate planning attorney.

  • You own out-of-state assets or property.

Owning and transferring foreign assets can be complex and involve tax implications in several jurisdictions. It often requires an in-depth understanding of the states’ laws and countries where those assets are located and where you reside as the owner. An estate planning attorney can help you navigate the complexities of different state and international property laws.

How to find an estate planning attorney

When it comes to hiring an estate planning attorney, you must ensure that you are hiring the best. You can start by asking your family, friends and colleagues for recommendations. Once you have done that, do a proper background check on them, focusing on their qualifications, experience, and reputation. You can also ask them for their legal fees because some estate planning attorneys can be way more expensive. Remember to choose an attorney you are comfortable around and can trust. That’s because you will disclose too much information, including your finances and final wishes.


Hiring an estate planner is crucial to creating a comprehensive and legally sound estate plan that reflects your wishes and safeguards your assets. Knowing when to hire one is a proactive step to securing your estate’s future.