Getting help with creating and managing a will is an important step to take in your life. If you want your property to go to specific people after you die, or to name who will be responsible for making sure your wishes are carried out, or to avoid legal issues, a wills lawyer can help.
Use FindLaw to find a wills lawyer near you to prepare a will tailored to your circumstances. You can also find a wills lawyer to help you with living wills -- also known as an advance directive or medical power of attorney -- last will and testaments, and joint or reciprocal wills.
A will – often called a last will and testament – provides for how your property and final affairs will be dealt with after you die. The last will and testament is the most common legal document used in estate planning, to provide for what you want to do with your assets after you pass away. It can be difficult to address estate planning. Talking to your family about end-of-life decisions is a sensitive matter. An estate planning lawyer can provide options and legal advice about wills, trusts, and how to handle your estate.
FindLaw's Lawyer Directory is the largest online directory of attorneys. Browse more than one million listings, covering everything from criminal defense to personal injury to estate planning.
Detailed law firm profiles have information like the firm's area of law, office location, office hours, and payment options. Attorney profiles include the biography, education and training, and client recommendations of an attorney to help you decide who to hire.
Use the contact form on the profiles to connect with a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania attorney for legal advice.
Consider the following:
- Are you comfortable telling the lawyer personal information? Does the lawyer seem interested in solving your problem?
- How long has the lawyer been in practice? Has the lawyer worked on other cases similar to yours?
- How are the lawyer's fees structured - hourly or flat fee? Can the lawyer estimate the cost of your case?
- Is the lawyer's office conveniently located near you?
A will is not the only estate planning option. There are several estate planning options that can be used to control what happens to your property and assets after you pass away. Living trusts provide for many options to determine how family members, friends, or charities can be provided for after death.
You can avoid the legal process of probate with a revocable living trust. Probate can add additional delays and costs to distributing the estate assets. A trust may be a better option than a will if you have specific desires for how people are provided for, what happens with your assets, or you have property in multiple states.
Another important estate planning tool is known as a living will. Also called an advance directive or health care directive, it provides for your wishes while you are still alive but may be unable to communicate your decisions. For example, if you suffer a serious medical event like a stroke, you may not be able to speak or communicate to health care workers about your wishes. A living will can provide for what kind of medical treatment you may or may not want. A living will can also name a health care agent to make important medical decisions on your behalf.
After you find a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania wills attorney, you may have a lot of important questions to ask. A wills lawyer can help you by evaluating your needs and goals to provide the best estate planning options. Questions you may want to ask an attorney about wills include:
How can I make sure my loved ones are provided for?
Are there reasons to avoid probate?
Will my loved ones have to worry about estate taxes and expenses?
How can I make sure my will is enforced?
What happens if someone contests the will?
How can I make changes to my will?
How can I create a living will?
Can I use a printed form will?
An attorney that does will is generally a trust and estates lawyer. Trusts and estates law firms generally provide transactional services, like preparing a will, creating a trust, estate administration, wealth planning, and administering trusts. This type of law generally involves a lot of planning, addressing possible pitfalls, and helping their clients avoid common mistakes that can upset or delay asset distribution.
It is always a good idea to research your lawyer prior to hiring. Every state has a disciplinary organization that monitors attorneys, their licenses, and consumer complaints. By researching lawyer discipline you can:
Ensure the attorney is currently licensed to practice in your state
Gain an understanding of his or her historical disciplinary record, if any.
Determine the seriousness of complaints/issues which could range from late bar fees to more serious issues requiring disciplinary action.