Many people only seek out the services of a lawyer if something negative has happened in their lives – they’ve been arrested, or they’re going through a divorce, or someone close to them has died, and it’s time to probate the estate.
Even people who find a lawyer for positive reasons – like making a will – see it as just a short-term transaction: the lawyer draws up a will, the client signs it and breathes a sigh of relief that everything is in order, and they may never see each other again.
When it comes to estate planning, this is really not the best approach, for a few reasons. First, planning your estate truly is a process, not a one-time event. The circumstances in our lives are constantly shifting, as are external forces, like tax laws and other government actions that affect your estate plan. Every so often, you need to update your plan to make sure it keeps pace with your current reality.
Second, we all face emergencies at one time or another. For example, even if you have an effective incapacity plan in place, would your spouse know exactly how to implement it if you suddenly became disabled?
When there’s an emergency that must be dealt with, or even when it’s time to take care of the more mundane task of updating your estate plan, the process is much easier if you have an ongoing relationship with an estate planning attorney you trust – and who is looking out for your best interests.
When you choose an attorney who is in it with you for the long haul, that person is more likely to understand the nuances of your estate plan, be familiar with you and your family, and be in a unique position to serve you in the best possible way.
So, when the time comes to plan your estate, it’s worth choosing an advisor whom you trust and with whom you feel comfortable – a good estate planning attorney can be quite an asset to you and your family as the years go by.