When choosing a will lawyer, you should consider their experience, qualifications, and communication skills. Look for a lawyer who specializes in estate planning and has a good reputation. It’s also important to feel comfortable discussing personal matters with them.
Taking the time to create a will, will make things so much easier for the family in the event of an untimely death. Creating a will does not have to be onerous, but it will take a little bit of time and effort. Your will is a legal document that clearly shows, in the event of your death who is to gain ownership of your possessions and property. When you make a will, it provides you with the opportunity of ensuring that the things you own go to the people of your choice. Part of the decision making you will face during your will creation is choosing a lawyer.
Choosing A Lawyer
Putting some thought into choosing a lawyer to assist you in the compilation and completion of your will is advisable. The law is extensive, and lawyers tend to specialise in a specific area of law, and they also have varied experience and different levels of expertise. You must select a lawyer who specialises in the right area of law for your situation. If you have a good lawyer you have used in the past and been happy with, but they do not work in the wills and estate area, they may provide you with advice about who may be able to assist. Your will is a significant legal document that will determine who your property and assets will go to when you pass, you will want to select a lawyer you feel you can trust and someone with whom you will feel you can share personal information. You can seek information from friends about their experiences, and you can also do your research about some of your local law firms and what they offer. There are several things to consider.
There are varied law areas, including commercial, competition, consumer and corporate law, property law, public and environmental law, and lawyers that specialise in litigation. The aim should be to hire a lawyer who specialises in the particular law area that you require. On this occasion, you are choosing a lawyer who specialises in wills and the administration of estates. A good lawyer will not only look at wills and estate planning but also discuss powers of attorney, trusts, any advanced care directives you may have, guardianship, contested wills, etc.
Reputation and Experience
If you live in a small town, you will probably have heard feedback about the lawyers in your immediate area via word of mouth. Remember, not everyone’s experience is the same and not all you hear will be accurate, but it will provide you with somewhere to start. Asking people you know who they hired to assist with wills and gaining feedback on their experience may help. If you know a lawyer, you may feel comfortable asking them for recommendations.
Please find out how long the lawyer has been in the law industry and particularly how long they have been working in the wills and estates area. You can obtain this information online. Getting referrals for individual lawyers as opposed to a law firm can help you find a difference in the way individuals within a firm work.
It is always great to support local businesses, which is the same when it comes to lawyers and law firms. One of the great benefits of using a local lawyer to create your will is that you can meet face-to-face. Another benefit is that the local lawyer will be aware of any issues that may only impact the community you live in. However, you should not just select a lawyer because they are the closest to you or the one who looked after your friend’s divorce. You do need to decide on merit.
Lawyers do advertise in local papers, and you will be able to find them on the internet. In the advertising, they will indicate what areas of law are undertaken at the practice. Online searches can provide considerable information with regards to lawyers in your area. They provide online reviews, star ratings, information on the types of law practised, background information regarding law schools, specialisation areas, educational background and work history. The internet is, therefore, a great resource.
This process should be the same as you use when you hire a builder or any other person. You should ensure that the person you are employing has the qualifications you require to complete the task. In this case, you want to select someone who has qualifications and capabilities in Wills and Estate planning.
Should You Select A Large Firm Or Independent Lawyer?
You need to select the person who you feel is best for you. There are benefits in selecting either a large firm or an independent lawyer. An independent practitioner who specialises in wills will be a specialist and have an extensive understanding of the area. Their fees can also be cheaper as they have fewer overheads. A more prominent law firm can have more extensive resources. If you do some initial research, you will find the person who can best assist you.
How To Progress
Once you believe you have selected a suitable lawyer to assist you in compiling and completing your will, you should make an initial phone call or appointment to ensure you have made the proper selection. A phone call is the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to do this. In the phone call, present the basic facts and prepare some questions to ask. The aim is to work out if you think the lawyer is the right fit for you and if they can deal with the work you want them to complete. For that reason, the first question you may ask is if they specialise in wills and estates. You may also ask if they have handled wills like yours? Do they sound interested and genuine? Do they make you feel confident that they can do the job you are asking them to do? Before you make a final decision regarding your lawyer, make sure you ask about fees. You need to know that you can afford the work you are requesting to be completed. You may find there are differing fee options, including a fixed fee or an hourly rate.
When You Meet
Prepare questions to ask when you meet with the lawyer. Preparation is the key as you will be paying for the time of the lawyer. Your lawyer will lead you through the process; however, it helps if you are well organised and have considered how you want to settle your affairs. Things that you need to consider before you attend your meeting are:
- How you have decided you want your assets split.
- If your children are still young, who do you want to look after them?
- Do you want to leave any money to charities?
- Do you want any trusts set up?
- Do you have any specific plans you would like followed for your funeral?
Your lawyer will suggest matters you may need to consider, and it will be important to take time to do so before your will is completed and signed. At this appointment, your lawyer will talk to you about how you would like them to communicate with you, e.g. by email, phone or snail mail. They will indicate how long the process is going to take and make a time for another meeting.
When people find themselves facing a legal issue, they need to find the right lawyer for the matter they are facing. First, determine the issue or need that you have. In this case, the category of lawyer you are looking for is someone who specialises in working with wills and estates.
Having a will can make things much less stressful for your family in the event of your death; if anyone feels the need to contest a will, that is highly distressing for all concerned. To avoid this, ensure you make a legal will, and it can also help inform family members of what you have placed in your will.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I know my will is valid?
There are key things you must do to ensure your will is valid. It must be a written document; it has to be signed, and your signature has to be witnessed by two other people who sign the will. Many people do write their own will, but a lawyer can assist and ensure the will is valid.
2. Who ensures the wishes of my will are fulfilled?
Part of the process of the will is appointing an executor. The role of this person is to take control of your affairs once you die.
3. If I don’t make a will, what will happen when I die?
If you die and have not made a will, then the decisions are made on your behalf. Under the Succession Act 2006 (New South Wales), the intestacy rules determine how your assets will be distributed. Generally, this would mean that if you were married, your assets would pass to your spouse. If you are unmarried when you pass away, your assets will pass to relatives who are eligible to inherit in the following order; children, parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins.
Not having a will slows the process down considerably and makes everything more complicated. Working with a lawyer when preparing a will, will iron out many issues.