Nine Questions To Ask An Attorney And Counselor

By Keith Romero |

Wealthcounsel Attorney Member Albuquerque New Mexico

If you’re looking to create a trust, whether it’s because you want to equally distribute the trust income only for the benefit of the people identified in the trust, or to keep it away from prying hands, it’s important to pick a reliable agency with high standards. After all, the end product will be a direct reflection of your business! Therefore, it’s essential to choose an attorney and counselor that you can trust to handle the estate planning in a way that represents you and the trust beneficiaries. 

If you’ve never worked with an attorney and counselor or created a trust before, you may not know where to start when it comes to choosing the right one for you. To make the whole process easier for you, we’ve outlined ten valuable questions to ask a potential attorney and counselor. 

During your initial consultation, ask these questions to help you understand if this company is the right fit for you, and capable of structuring your trust effectively and efficiently. 

1. Do I need a will or a trust?
Wills and trusts are both estate planning tools that can help ensure your assets are protected and bequeathed to your heirs. Upon death, your will goes through a probate. A trust on the other hand will streamline the process of transferring an estate after you die while avoiding a lengthy and potentially costly period of probate that happens with a will. If issues arise, a living trust will most likely override a will. If you have minors, however, creating a will that names a guardian is critical to protecting both minors and any inheritance. 

2. What are your fees?
The cost to set up a trust depends on various factors, including the type of trust, the state you live in, and how complex the legal documents are. The costs you’ll need to pay will include legal fees, court fees, etc. When it comes to their fees, there are two fee structures used to charge clients. One is by the hour, and the other is a flat fee. Many lawyers charge by the hour, and some charge a flat fee. The cost of enlisting a licensed attorney begins in the low $1000s and can go up from there, depending on the complexity of your needs. While this may sound pricey, it is well worth it as paying now means you won’t have to lose money later.

3. How can a trust benefit me in my situation?
A trust can be created for various reasons, and there are many types of trusts. Overall, however, there are two categories, living and testamentary. A testamentary trust is a bit more expensive to maintain. This is one way to control the passing of your estate beyond your grave. The next type is a living trust. It is created while the property owner is alive and it can be changed anytime during their lifetime. Trusts can keep your heirs out of probate court and is thus the better choice of the two, depending on your situation. 

4. How should I care for my minor children?
If you have minor children, you should definitely make a will to name guardianship. If a guardian is not appointed, your surviving family will have to seek help in a probate court and the person appointed may not be the one whom you would have wanted to be entrusted with your kids. A well-written will places your decisions in the hands of the judge presiding over your estate transfer. It allows you to give your beneficiaries insight or directions on how they should handle your assets. 

5. What is an estate plan?
Making a plan in advance, naming the people or organizations to want to receive the things you own after you die, and taking steps now to make carrying out your plan as easy as possible is what estate planning is. If you die without a valid estate plan, any assets owned in your individual name and without a beneficiary designation will be distributed equally according to your state’s laws, typically through a court-supervised probate proceeding. 

6. How do health care directives work?
A health care directive is a written document that informs others of your wishes regarding your health care. It allows you to name a person or agent to decide for you if you are unable to decide. A health care directive is important as if you don’t have one, you can’t be sure if your treatment preferences are being followed in case you are not in a condition to communicate it to health care providers. 

7. What is a probate court?
Probate is the legal process of distributing your property after you die. During this process, a probate court validates your will and then authorizes your executor to distribute your estate to your beneficiaries as per your instructions as well as pay any taxes your estate may owe. If you have no will, a further proceeding must be held to determine how your estate will be divided. 

8. How can I avoid probate court?
Although a probate is often straightforward, many people want to avoid it. The reasons range from it taking too long, being costly and is a public affair. There are multiple steps you can take to avoid it. One such way would be to establish a living trust. Property held in your trust is not part of your estate and is an entity by itself. The trustee is obligated to distribute the trust under the terms of your trust agreement.

9. How can I protect my estate from my kids, spouses, creditors and bad decisions?
If you don’t have confidence that your kids, spouses or creditors will make good decisions, you can put the decisions in the hands of someone else. This person has to be someone you trust a lot! Another simple way to control the flow of money is to set up a trust and direct that the money be given out in installments. This way the trustee will have to manage the money but not the manner in which it should be given. You can also design an incentive trust. This rewards good behavior you want and discourages what you consider bad. 

Want to get started with a trusted attorney and counselor at law in Albuquerque, NM? Then say hi to me at Keith R. Romero Attorney and Counselor at Law. I help you plan, protect, and provide for your legacy and loved ones. After serving clients for several decades, I have obtained a certain level of nuanced and intuitive instinct, coupled with a firm grasp of the law. I apply this expertise and experience to your requirements to offer ideal solutions and take the stress off your loved ones in the event of your demise. For a complete list of my services, please click here. If you have any questions about Keith R. Romero Attorney and Counselor at Law, I would love to hear from you, please contact me here.