Estate Planning Attorneys
Would you have an optometrist do your heart surgery? Sounds like a silly question, right? However, the same could be said for choosing the right attorney for your estate planning. Unfortunately, the legal profession does not have as clearly defined specialties as the medical profession does. You have to do some research to be able to tell which attorney is qualified to guide you through your estate planning options.
It seems every brochure or letter you receive from your bank, financial advisor, or brokerage firm asks if you have done your “estate plan.” But your bank, financial advisor, or brokerage firm can only help you with the financial planning aspects of your estate. You need a qualified estate planning attorney to help you with the legal aspects of your estate plan. A good estate planning attorney will work with both your financial advisor and your accountant to create the best plan for you.
Some attorneys attend a short seminar to learn a certain area of law and then immediately add it to their existing law practice. Others take the time to get the education required to become a specialist in one or two areas of law. The intricacies around estate, Medicaid, and tax planning are extensive. Not only does the attorney need a thorough knowledge of probate law, estate administration, trust, asset protection and Medicaid laws, they must also have an extensive knowledge of income tax, estate tax, gift tax, generation-skipping tax and excise tax laws. All of these areas intertwine and have a significant impact on your estate plan.
“Florida Bar board certified specialist,” “board certified expert,” and “B.C.S” are terms you can look for to let you know that an attorney is a legal expert in his or her field. It is a credential that can help you sort through the clutter of legal advertising when comparing lawyers.
Certification is the Florida Bar’s highest evaluation of attorneys’ competency, experience, and professionalism in the areas of law approved for specialization. The Florida Bar maintains high standards that lawyers must meet before seeking certification in an area of law practice. Florida has 26 areas of law in which lawyers may specialize—more than any other state.
While general attorneys may have some knowledge of the law and be able to guide you through certain parts of the estate or Medicaid planning processes, they will not be aware of the many exceptions and detail s an attorney who limits his practice to only estate planning will know.
An attorney who does traffic court one day, divorce on another, business law on the third day and sues for personal injury on the fourth, will not have the experience and knowledge of the loopholes as an attorney who practices exclusively in estate planning. If you're looking for a divorce, find an attorney who focuses on divorce. If you want estate planning, find an attorney who focuses on estate planning.