There are many types of attorneys and they differ in the ways that they can help. You’ve heard that an estate planning attorney could help your situation, but you’re not sure what exactly they could do. Let’s go over the basics here, so you can make an informed decision about whether or not consulting an estate planning attorney is right for you.
An estate planning attorney guides you while you choose the correct options for maintaining your estate after death or if you become incapacitated. The right attorney will strive to understand your goals regarding your estate and desires for medical treatment in the case of incapacitation or death. Then he or she will suggest ways to reach those goals and wants and guide you through the necessary legal process to achieve them. Proper estate planning greatly simplifies the process for your family and friends after you are unable to manage things yourself.
Estate goals will differ for each person. Whether you want to involve your children and family in the maintenance of your estate or you want to distribute it all in a certain way, an estate planning attorney can help you set everything up correctly. The attorney can describe various options for you as well as make sure that your wants are carried out according to the law, as your estate must meet state guidelines to avoid any surprises down the road.
What Can an Estate Planning Attorney Help You Do?
- Prepare a legally complete Property Power of Attorney.
- Prepare a Will, as well as help manage the probate process with or without a Will.
- Plan to reduce or even eliminate estate tax.
- Establish a Living Trust. This will avoid probate and allow for management of assets in case of incapacity.
- Help avoid guardianship of the estate of minors or an incapacitated person.
- Pass along property to your loved ones in the manner that you wish.
- Ensure that your property is protected appropriately from your inheritors' creditors as well as predators.
- Assist you in putting your brokerage accounts, insurance policies, retirement plans, debt and personal property, and business and partnership interests into trusts or business entities.
- Create Irrevocable Trusts or other special types of Trusts.
For more information, here is an estate planning checklist for the state of California to help you focus on the necessities when starting your estate plan.
What Should You Look For in an Estate Planning Attorney?
- Your attorney should be devoted in his or her practice to this area of law. He or she needs to have the specialized knowledge you require to plan your estate.
- You should feel comfortable sharing details of your life and concerns with him or her so that your estate does not fall short of your wants and goals.
- Your estate planning attorney needs to be well versed in and up to date with the laws in your region. If they are not, your plan could ultimately be found invalid by the courts later on.
What Should You Expect to Pay for Your Plan?
You should be prepared to pay the legal fees to have your estate plan created, maintained, and updated as the laws change. Remember that you are paying for the attorney's expertise and years of practice in this field. If you do not work with an attorney who has the experience in estate planning, your estate could stand to lose far more money in the long run than the cost of paying for a qualified attorney. There is peace of mind that comes with knowing that things are going to go exactly as you planned should you pass away, and this is possible with the help and cost of that qualified estate planning attorney.
In other words, there is much more here than one person can handle on their own. If you have numerous things set up or numerous business deals and property, it’s probably best that you find and consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. This will save you time, headache, and money in the future. It can also give you and your family relief knowing that all of your affairs are in order when the time should come.
If you feel like you want to take on your own estate planning, check out Dan Higson’s blog on do-it-yourself estate planning here. There are many resources available to help you fill out simple estate planning forms yourself. Just keep in mind that tricky and complex estate plans will require legal guidance to ensure that they are set up accurately.
If you have more questions about estate planning in the state of California, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today!
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