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What does an Estate Planning Attorney Do?

Aug 01, 2015 09:09AM ● Published by Jennifer Neys

What does an Estate Planning Attorney Do?

by Daniel DuRee

            An estate planning attorney does many different things at various stages of the planning process, but ultimately he or she provides peace of mind for you and your family.

            Listener:

            First, an estate planning attorney listens to clients to understand their situations, goals, and unique family dynamics. During the initial client meeting, an estate-planning attorney gets a sense of the client’s financial and family situation and what they wish to accomplish. Because every client situation is so unique, it is imperative that the attorney understands the issues at hand in order to suggest different options for accomplishing goals. 

            Educator:

            Probably the most important function the estate planning attorney performs is that of an educator. Throughout the planning process, your attorney educates you first about issues that may arise and options for dealing with them and then, later, about how your estate plan will function. Since the ultimate goal is peace of mind for the client, the attorney must ensure the client understands how their particular estate plan will operate and how to achieve their goals. It is important that your attorney offers an in-office draft review meeting for this reason. 

            Drafting Attorney:

            After educating and listening to a client, the estate planning attorney drafts custom documents to address the client’s unique situation and to carry out their wishes. In California, this usually includes a revocable living trust, a will, a grant deed transferring a home into the trust, and documents addressing incapacity. It is important for your attorney to review drafts with you and make changes until your documents satisfy your goals.

            After reviewing and explaining the drafts and making any requested changes, the estate planning attorney will have you come in to sign your estate planning documents. The attorney will also record your grant deed, transferring any real estate into the trust. This, however is not where the relationship ends.

            Resource:

            An estate-planning attorney is a resource for their clients going forward. They will answer questions that arise about new assets, beneficiary designation forms, and how to address changes in financial or family situations. I personally, and free of charge, always answer any questions my past clients have regarding estate planning.

            Because client peace of mind comes first, your estate planning attorney must be an excellent listener, educator, drafting attorney, and resource for you and your family. The listening and educating process may take a few hours, but it is the part of the estate planning that allows you to sleep at night knowing with certainty that your assets and family will be protected once you are gone.

            For a complimentary in-office consultation about how to achieve this peace of mind, please call my office at 925-210-1400.

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