What’s that again? These lawyers help clients address the various worries that keep them up at night—from how to express their end-of-life directions to, yes, how to distribute an estate.
When to hire: If you have a complicated work or family situation that requires careful contingency planning, says Stephen C. Hartnett, the associate director of education for the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. (To name just a few examples: You own your own business; you have a special-needs child; you are in a same-sex partnership; you have more than $1 million in assets.) An estate attorney can also help you dictate how your life insurance, your IRA (individual retirement account), and your 401(k) assets are allocated; draw up a living will; and name a health-care proxy (a person who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re not able to do so).
Expect to pay: Around $1,000 to $2,500 for a basic estate plan for a single person.
How to find a good one: Hire a lawyer who belongs to the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (aaepa.com). Members must complete at least 36 hours of continuing education a year in estate, tax, probate, and elder law.