An estate planning attorney helps you to plan for the future and ensure that your wishes are carried out after you pass away or become incapacitated. This is typically a very personal process, and the lawyer you work with will likely be privy to confidential information about your family, finances and property. This is why it is important to find an attorney with whom you are comfortable working. A good estate planning attorney should welcome your questions, answer them in a manner that you understand (not in legalese you can’t translate), and make you feel at ease throughout the process.
A competent estate planning attorney will walk you through the process of creating a comprehensive list of your assets and heirs, and then help you decide how to divvy up your property. The way that you choose to divvy up your assets can impact the cost of probate, inheritance taxes and other financial matters. In addition, some states have laws requiring that certain kin be given specific amounts of your property – such as spouses, children and parents. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can help you handle these situations so that your beneficiaries don’t have to deal with expensive and time consuming legal proceedings after your death or incapacitation.
Another important function of an estate planning attorney is assisting with the preparation of legal documents, such as wills, living trusts and power of attorneys. They will explain the formalities required to meet all of the legal requirements for each document, including how many witnesses and notaries are needed. They will also assist with executing the documents in accordance with all state requirements.
After you have compiled a list of your assets and heirs, your attorney will take that information and create the necessary legal documents. They will review these documents with you to discuss them and to ensure that they properly convey your wishes. This is a crucial step in the process, because if the legal documents are not executed correctly, they will be invalid.
An experienced attorney will also advise you of other legal tools and strategies that may be useful in achieving your goals. For example, if you own real estate, they might recommend that you form a trust to avoid probate and protect your property from creditors and predators. They might also suggest that you make a “living” will, which is a set of instructions on how you would like to be treated if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate your own wishes.
While it is not a pleasant thought, it is important to consider how you wish your property and affairs to be handled if you die or become incapable of making decisions for yourself. Estate planning attorneys are a vital resource for ensuring that your wishes are respected and carried out. They are skilled in federal and state law regarding estates, trusts, and probate. They can help you create a plan that is effective and efficient.