As you begin the process of trying to make an estate plan, a good starting point is to review our estate planning page for an index of free estate planning forms and guides. If you decide you need professional help to make a will, living trust, power of attorney or advance directives, there are several options, including:
1. Hiring an estate planning lawyer. This is the best option because you can have your estate plan thoroughly reviewed by a licensed professional. While this is more expensive than other estate planning options, most law firms offer a free consultation. You can also request a flat fee quote for estate planning documents such as a will or living trust. See finding an attorney.2. Using legal aid or pro bono services. If you need an attorney for help with a basic will or an issue such as conservatorship or guardianship, but cannot afford one, you may be eligible to receive free or low cost legal services, or help with estate planning forms, through a legal aid organization or pro bono project in your community. See legal aid.3. Using a prepaid legal services plan as part of employee benefits. If you have a prepaid legal services plan through your job, insurance, or a spouse's employee benefits, you may be eligible to have certain basic estate planning documents prepared by an attorney that participates in the plan. A prepaid legal services lawyer may also help you execute estate planning forms such as a living will. See prepaid legal services.4. Using Estate Planning Software. If you do not have the option of consulting an attorney for help with your estate plan, you can make your own will, living trust, power of attorney, and advance health care directives using estate planning software. If you decide to use this option to make an estate plan, follow all instructions provided in the software to ensure your estate planning documents are valid and enforceable. Using a licensed estate planning attorney is always recommended when making an estate plan.
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Get Help With Trust Administration
If you have a substantial estate and are considering using a living trust or another type of trust as part of your estate plan, you may want to retain a trust company to administer your estate. In addition to managing your trust, a trust company can help you prepare estate planning documents and develop strategies to minimize estate taxes.
If you are the executor, personal representative or administrator of an estate in probate or the successor trustee of a living trust, you may want to hire a trust company to assist with estate administration. A trust company can also help you invest and manage trust assets in accordance with trustee duties under the law. Depending on the size of the estate or trust, using a trust company is often the most prudent way to ensure executor and trustee duties are handled properly, thus helping you avoid personal liability. For a list of trust companies that provide estate planning and estate administration services, see trust companies.
Get Help With Probate
For help with estate administration or probate of a deceased person's estate, see probate lawyer.