Every adult in California needs to have a will in place. Many Californians may also benefit from having a living trust, also known as a revocable trust, created by an attorney. But how should you find the best lawyer for wills and trusts near you? Read on for tips on how to find a great trust and wills attorney near you.
Tips for Finding a Lawyer Nearby Who Drafts Wills and Trusts
If you don’t have a will, or you’re wondering if a living trust is right for you, you should find an experienced attorney who dedicates some or all their practice to estate planning. Follow these tips for finding the perfect trust and wills lawyer.
1. Ask for Referrals from Friends, Family, and Coworkers
When you need a terrific wills and trust attorney, don’t forget to ask your family, friends, or colleagues if they have an estate planning attorney that they would recommend. It can save you a great deal of time spent on research.
2. Contact Several Attorneys
You will want to work with an attorney who you feel comfortable with. You will be sharing privileged information with them, so the trust and wills attorney you select should be someone you have good rapport with. If you meet or speak on the phone with an attorney who seems distracted, or disinterested, continue your search. Planning for your loved ones after your death is a serious matter, and the attorney should give you their full attention. If you call a law office and can’t get past the receptionist without scheduling an in-person consultation for a fee, keep looking.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask the Lawyer Who Will Be Working on Your Trust and Will
In some law practices, it is customary practice for the lawyer you meet with to delegate the actual work of creating your trust or will to a newer, less experienced attorney. If this is acceptable to you, then feel free to proceed. However, if you’d prefer a more experienced attorney to work on your estate planning documents, continue your research.
4. Remember a Bigger Law Firm Doesn’t Mean it’s a Better Law Firm
If you do an online search for trust and will attorneys, you will likely see online ads from some of the biggest firms in your area. But bigger doesn’t always mean better, particularly when it comes to estate planning. Large firms often have a much bigger overhead, including office space, support staff, and advertising which means their rates may be higher than those of a smaller law firm. At a larger firm you may be directed to a less experienced attorney, rather than working with a more experienced attorney in private practice. This doesn’t mean large firms are better, or small firms are better. It just means you should find the lawyer you feel comfortable with, and whose rates you find acceptable.
5. Be Sure You Understand the Retainer or Hourly Fee
When meeting with a trust and wills attorney, make sure you clearly understand how you will be billed for their service. Do they offer a flat fee service for your will? Do they bill you every time you call them with a question? Make sure you understand and accept the billing terms before you agree to hire a trust and wills attorney.
6. Ask About Their Experience with Wills and Trusts
You are well within your rights to ask how much of their practice is dedicated to helping Californians create wills and trusts. Is it a primary practice area, or is it one of many practice areas that they handle? Ask how long they have been drafting wills and trusts. Are they new to the field, or are they a seasoned professional? Never feel embarrassed or reluctant to ask about their qualifications and experience.
7. Read Online Reviews
Online reviews can give you an idea of what other clients had to say about their experience with a specific attorney. Consider checking a variety of online sites, such as Google, Yelp, and others.
Do I Need a Will or a Living Trust?
When it comes to estate planning, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. This is because the very nature of planning for your estate after death requires incredible personalization. However, every adult in California should have some plan in place. In many cases, a will is sufficient. However, many people choose to have both a will and a living trust in place.
If you die without a will (known as intestacy), the probate court will take control of your estate. They will appoint an administrator to determine how your assets will be distributed. A will on the other hand, directs how your assets will be distributed. A will also allows you to name an executor who will oversee the distribution of your assets. You can also name a guardian for any minor children in your will. You may include your desired wishes for a funeral and burial in your will as well. Your will needs to filed with the probate court in your area.
A living trust, also known as a revocable trust, also provides you the opportunity to make clear how your assets should be distributed after your death. With a trust, you transfer your assets to the legal entity, and remain the trustee until your death. At that time, the trust becomes irrevocable. Trusts can help alleviate some tax burdens, and often the probate process for your beneficiaries. The distribution of your assets can also remain private if you have a trust. Your will is entered into the public record.
There are many benefits of both a will and a living trust, but there can be some downsides to having only one or the other. An experienced trust and wills attorney near you will explain impacts on your loved ones, costs associated with setting up a will or trust, and will present you with guidance on which option may be best for you.
Schedule a Trust and Will Consultation in South Pasadena
The Law Offices of Paul Yee is a top-reviewed estate planning, business law, and intellectual property law firm based in South Pasadena. Founder and attorney Paul Yee has more than 25 years of experience helping families, individuals, and businesses with estate planning services including trusts and wills. To schedule a consultation with trust and wills attorney Paul Yee, call 626-799-4900 or send us a message online.