Learn the steps to become an estate planning attorney and pursue a fulfilling career path. Get an expert guide to becoming an estate planning attorney with this comprehensive article.
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How to Become an Estate Planning Attorney
Estate planning is a crucial element of financial control that involves distributing a person’s assets and properties after death. An estate planning attorney is a legal specialist who provides legal guidance and advice to individuals or families seeking to create a plan to distribute their assets. Becoming an estate planning attorney can be a rewarding and fulfilling career path if you are interested in estate planning.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
The first step towards becoming an estate planning attorney is to earn a bachelor’s degree in an appropriate field, such as finance, accounting, or business. A bachelor’s degree provides the foundation for legal education. It helps you develop critical thinking and analytical skills, essential in the legal profession.
Step 2: Take the LSAT and Apply to Law School
After earning a bachelor’s degree, the next is to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and apply to law school. The LSAT is a standardized examination that measures your critical thinking, analytical skills, and reading and writing abilities. Law schools use your LSAT scores, undergraduate transcripts, and personal statements to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for their program.
Step 3: Earn a Law Degree
After being accepted into law school, you must complete a Juris Doctor (JD) program, which typically takes three years. During law school, you will study various legal subjects, including contracts, torts, property law, civil procedure, and criminal law. You can also specialize in estate planning through elective courses, internships, or externships.
Step 4: Pass the Bar Exam
After finishing law school, you must pass the bar exam in the region where you plan to practice law. The bar exam is a comprehensive test measuring your knowledge of the law and capability to apply legal principles to real-world scenarios. Passing the bar test is required to obtain a license to rehearse law in your area.
Step 5: Gain Experience in Estate Planning
Once you have received your license to rehearse law, the next step is gaining estate planning experience. You can earn experience by working for a law firm specializing in estate planning or starting your practice. During this period, you can work with clients, draft legal documents, and develop your knowledge and skills in estate planning.
Step 6: Pursue Continuing Legal Education (CLE)
Estate planning is a complex and ever-changing area of law, and staying up-to-date with the latest legal developments and trends is essential. Pursuing continuing legal education (CLE) courses can help you stay current and develop your expertise in estate planning. Many state bar associations require lawyers to complete a certain number of CLE hours each year to maintain their license to practice law.
Step 7: Obtain Certification in Estate Planning
While not required, obtaining certification in estate planning can assist you to stand out from lawyers and demonstrate your expertise in the field. Several organizations offer certification programs in estate planning, including the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC) and the Estate Law Specialist Board, Inc. (ELSB).
Becoming an estate planning attorney requires a significant investment of time and effort. Still, it can be a rewarding and chasing career direction. Following these steps, you can acquire the knowledge, skills, and experience required to succeed as an estate planning attorney.
As an estate planning attorney, salary expectations can vary depending on several factors, including location, years of background, and the size and type of firm you work for.
According to the Labor Statistics Report, the median annual wage for all lawyers in the United States was $126,930 in May 2020. However, depending on their circumstances, estate planning attorneys may earn more or less than that.
In general, estate planning attorneys working for larger law firms in metropolitan areas tend to make higher salaries than those operating for smaller firms or rural areas. Attorneys with years of experience may also earn higher wages than those just starting.
Advantages of Being an Estate Planning Attorney
There are numerous advantages to being an estate planning attorney, which makes this field an attractive option for many lawyers.
One of the main advantages of being an estate planning attorney is supporting clients’ plans for their future. Estate planning is a complex and vital area of law. As an attorney in this field, you have the opportunity to guide clients through arranging their assets and affairs to ensure their wishes are met after their passing. You may also assist clients in creating a legacy for future generations or supporting their charitable causes through planned giving.
Another advantage of being an estate planning attorney is the potential for a high salary and job security. As previously mentioned, salaries for estate planning attorneys can vary depending on several factors, but this is generally a lucrative field. Additionally, estate planning is a critical area of law, and the demand for attorneys in this field will likely remain strong.
Challenges of Being an Estate Planning Attorney
Like any profession, there are also challenges to being an estate planning attorney. Estate planning can be complicated, and attorneys must stay present with changes in tax laws and estate planning strategies. It can also be an emotionally challenging area of law, as clients may be dealing with losing a loved one or planning for their passing.
Professional organizations can be an essential resource for estate planning attorneys. These organizations can provide numerous benefits to their members, including networking opportunities, access to professional development resources, and advocacy for the profession.
One of the primary benefits of professional organizations for estate planning attorneys is the opportunity to network with other attorneys in the field. It can be precious for attorneys starting or looking to expand their practice. Professional organizations often host conferences and workshops where attorneys can meet and connect with others in their field.
Professional organizations can also be a valuable resource for advocacy on behalf of the profession. These organizations may promote the interests of estate planning attorneys in legislative and regulatory matters and advocate for policies and practices that benefit the job as a whole.
Becoming an estate planning attorney is a long and challenging process. Still, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling career path for those interested in helping individuals and families plan for the future. With the proper education, training, and experience, you can become a trusted consultant to your clients and help them reach their estate planning goals.
What does an estate planning attorney do?
An estate planning attorney helps people and families create a strategy to distribute their assets and properties after death. It includes drafting legal documents such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney and providing legal guidance and advice on estate and tax planning.
How long does it take to become an estate planning attorney?
Becoming an estate planning attorney takes seven years of education and training, including a four-year bachelor’s degree, a three-year law degree, and passing the bar exam.
What skills are necessary to become an estate planning attorney?
To become an estate planning attorney, you must have decisive analytical and critical thinking skills, excellent communication and writing mastery, attention to detail, and the ability to work nicely with clients and other professionals.
Is certification necessary to become an estate planning attorney?
Certification is unnecessary to become an estate planning attorney. Still, it can help demonstrate your expertise and differentiate yourself from other attorneys.
How can I gain experience in estate planning?
You can gain experience in estate planning by working for a law firm specializing in estate planning or starting your practice. You can also seek out opportunities to participate in p