What should I ask of a prospective estate planning attorney?

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What should I ask of a prospective estate planning attorney?

I need a trust and I’ve talked to a few lawyers. Their fees vary widely. Is there anything I should be asking about their services that would help me make a decision about who to hire?

Asked on March 22, 2009 under Estate Planning, California


S.B.A., Member, California and Texas Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 14 years ago | Contributor

Why do I need a trust ?

What type of trust do I need ?

How much inheritance taxes would I be avoiding by a trust (and what is the name of that type of trust) ?  What other costs would the trust incur which would offset any taxes saved ?

How easy is it to add property or sell property which has been placed in a trust ?

Is the trust revocable or irrevocable ?  Can I change the beneficiaries, or am I locked in to my choices ?  How much control do I keep over my assets - can I still sell, withdraw, or gift them ?

Can I change trustee if I want ?

Who will administer my trust, and how much will they charge ?

Other than confidentiality (probate files are open to the public) and possibly lower taxes, what other advantage, to me, does a trust provide ?

Will my trust have to file a separate income tax return for any interest/capital gain earned ? When ?

Will putting my assets in a trust change the 'capital gain' basis and taxability of my assets ?

Do I still need a will for any other assets which may have been overlooked & not placed in the trust's name (cars, loans owed to me, small accounts, refunds, furniture, personal belongings such as guns, cameras, etc.).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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