Author Topic: How to find a quality Estate Planning Attorney?  (Read 1998 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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How to find a quality Estate Planning Attorney?
« on: April 05, 2018, 09:20:46 AM »
I am currently in the process of getting my financial house in order and plan on meeting with an Estate Planning Attorney in the next 12 months. However, what resources are available for finding a competent, reasonably priced attorney. Is there a good list somewhere. For reference, I live in the Philadelphia area if anyone has specific suggestions.

Also, is there a list of questions that I should have answered or at least prepare for ahead of time so I can be ready for the meeting and also minimize the cost the attorney will charge?


  • Stubble
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  • Location: Northern California
Re: How to find a quality Estate Planning Attorney?
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2018, 05:55:35 PM »
How complicated is your estate going to be, how much assets are you taking about. We got a package deal for a revocable trust, will, health care wishes, power of attorneys etc from a company our financial adviser recommended. It comes with support and life time changes/updates. I want to say it was around $1000. We are young, 31 and 28, so for us the big upside is not having to pay to add things or make changes.

We are able to put in pretty much any type of stipulations we want. We are comfortable going this route and our net worth is around $1m right now. We will probably get some word of mouth referrals when our net worth approaches $4m+ to pay for some hourly advice and review our current plan.

Questions they will probably want to know:

Size of estate, type of accounts, how difficult are you planning on making it, what do you want (will, trust, etc)


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: How to find a quality Estate Planning Attorney?
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2018, 12:13:07 PM »
@TVRodriguez may have good suggestions.

Thanks for the call, lhamo.

Full disclosure: I'm an estate planning attorney, licensed to practice law in 3 states, and I have 19 years of practice.

Philadelphia area:  PA or NJ?  Estate planning law is mostly state specific.  Many states have similar laws, but you're best off going with someone in your home state.

Where to find someone:  Check the state bar association.  You can look for someone who is a member of ACTEC (American College of Trusts & Estates Counsel--I'm not in it, but many many good T&E attorneys are).  You can look for an attorney who is a member of the real property and probate section of the state bar.  You can ask a good CPA or financial planner (yes, there are good ones) or private banker.  But find an estate planning attorney, not a real estate attorney or a family law attorney or a PI attorney or an "attorney friend" who is "doing you a favor."  Please.  For your own sake.

List of questions:  Know what you own and how you own it.  Whose name is on what asset.  Double check your deed(s) to be sure they are as you think.  How much is in each account.  What's in your IRA, 401(k), other retirement plan.  Who's the beneficiary?  How old are your kids if you have any.  Any special needs?  Any minor kids?  Who will be their guardians--both of the person and of the property you leave behind (doesn't have to be the same person).  Do you want them to get everything at 21?  Not likely, but I've seen that done.  Who in your family or among your friends is responsible enough to leave in charge of finding, collecting, and distributing your assets at your death?  This may not be the same person who will take care of your minor kids.  Any charitable leanings?  Who should take care of your assets if you are disabled?  Do you want to have home care or be moved to a nursing home if necessary?  Do you have a preference for cremation or burial?  Have you prepaid a funeral home/cemetery?  Does your name appear on anyone else's assets?  Do you have business interests (small business type thing--not talking about an investment account)?  How are they owned?  Have you thought about whether you'd prefer to live as a vegetable or would you prefer that your family pull the plug if you were brain-dead?  If you're a woman of child-bearing age, and if you were pregnant and a vegetable, would you want the pregnancy brought to term before pulling the plug?

I know that is a word-vomit of a paragraph.  I apologize--I don't have the time to make it concise.  I actually have to go draft an estate plan now (I'm a lot more particular on those documents than on these posts).  Let me know if you want more information.  Or check my other posts--I think I've been clearer in other responses in the past. 

And pat yourself on the back for thinking of this issue at all.  More than half of folks die without an estate plan, but so far 100% of people die.  I'll tell you that I make a lot more money on those who come to me dead without an estate plan than I do on the living clients who organize things before they die.

iris lily

  • Walrus Stache
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Re: How to find a quality Estate Planning Attorney?
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2018, 12:35:06 PM »
We paid $3,000 in St. Louis for estate planning and end of life documents. We have nothing complicated, or, I should,say we have complications because we dont have children so who gets our assets, if there are any left when we die,is complicated a bit.

But that said, their standard fee was $3,000 and our situation didnt exceed it.