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What Do Estate Lawyers Do?

Estate lawyers help outline the distribution of property and management of assets after a person's death. Read on to learn more about what estate lawyers do and how you can enter this profession.

Job Duties of Estate Lawyers

An estate lawyer is a bar certified attorney who specializes in estate planning and assists clients in drafting and implementing legal documents, including wills and trusts. Estate law is closely related to family law, since lawyers often must work with related individuals who are involved with an estate. If you enter this legal specialty, you'll arrange and organize the transfer of assets from an individual to the heirs and beneficiaries.

You'll also help clients devise ways to reduce taxes or fees that may be imposed on an estate, which requires tax law knowledge. You might also need to establish restrictions on an estate to ensure that a client's wishes are properly carried out. Other personal and business matters that estate lawyers can handle include retirement plans, life insurance policies and charitable contributions.

Important Facts About This Occupation

On-the-job TrainingInternships at law firms, or in government or corporate law departments
Key SkillsAnalytical, interpersonal skills, good at problem-solving, research, speaking and writing
Work EnvironmentPrivate or corporate offices, may attend meetings at hospitals, prisons or the homes of clients
Similar OccupationsParalegals and legal assistants, judges and hearing officers

Education and Skills

If you're a prospective estate lawyer, you typically must attend law school to earn your Juris Doctor degree, and then pass your state's bar exam. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), state bar requirements usually include passing written examinations covering both the law and ethics (www.bls.gov). Estate lawyers gain much of their specific estate planning knowledge through on-the-job experience, mentorships and continuing education. Along with having advanced knowledge of the legal system, you should be well versed in the Uniform Probate Code, which imposes rules and limits on wills and trusts.

Salary Information and Job Outlook

As of May 2019, Payscale.com reported that estate planning attorneys made a median annual wage of $71,969. According to the BLS, the job outlook for all lawyers will increase 8% for the years 2016 to 2026.