People work hard all their lives to make a good living and accumulate wealth. It would be a shame if that hard work and savings were wasted when the person died because a proper will and other financial arrangements were not in place. Parents want to leave their accumulated wealth to their children, and people without children want a say in who benefits from their lifetime earnings. People with modest assets still want to choose who benefits.
Take a little time while still healthy in mind and body to make legal arrangements for care if a person becomes incapacitated to have control over the disbursement of accumulated assets when death occurs. This is called estate planning. An estate planning attorney can advise people on how to properly plan for the future. By taking the time now to plan for the future, family members are saved money and grief in the future.
Estate planning involves making arrangements for someone to handle financial and medical affairs if a person becomes incapacitated. That involves setting up a Financial Power of Attorney and Healthcare Power of Attorney. That ensures, when death occurs, that the correct person or persons or charities get the assets left in the estate. Once a person is incapacitated or dies, it is too late to write a will or do estate planning.
Services That May Be needed in Estate Planning
Estate planning may include a range of services:
- A will naming an executor for the estate and who gets what property.
- A revocable living trust transfers a person’s assets upon their death and has additional advantages including probate avoidance, privacy, and speed.
- A financial Power of Attorney declares who will pay a person’s bills and handle other financial affairs if they become incapacitated.
- The Living Will or Healthcare Power of Attorney names a person to talk to the doctors and handle end of life decisions and affairs.
- Estate tax planning
- Probate avoidance
- Planning for the care of minor children or special needs beneficiaries.
- Charitable giving plans
- Irrevocable trusts for asset protection
Many attorneys give free preliminary estate planning consultations to establish the client’s needs and discuss anticipated fees.
Why do People Hire Estate Attorneys?
There are at least nine reasons people need to hire estate attorneys. Saving money now by downloading and using forms found on the internet can prove to be costly for beneficiaries when death occurs. Those forms may not be legally correct or binding. Then, the money will be spent hiring lawyers to correct their mistakes. Here are a few of the reasons for hiring an attorney for estate planning is critically important.
- A person is in a second or later marriage or the person is recently divorced.
- The person owns one or more businesses.
- The children involved are minors, are disabled, have problems, or are adopted.
- The person owns real estate or other assets in more than one state.
- There are large assets in 401ks and/or IRAs.
- There are no children.
- Part of the assets will be left to one or more charities.
- A spouse or other family member has died.
- There is a taxable estate for federal or state estate tax liabilities.
Find the Right Estate Attorney
Ask a few important questions of attorneys being considered for estate planning. Ask the prospective attorney how long they have been practicing and what estate planning experience they have. Ask about fees upfront. Does the attorney actually execute the plan? Does the attorney do periodic reviews for changes? There are other questions to ask depending on individual estate planning needs.
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Newly middle-aged wife of 1, Mom of 3, Grandma of 2. A professional blogger who has lived in 3 places since losing her home to a house fire in October 2018 with her husband. Becky appreciates being self-employed which has allowed her to work from 'anywhere'. Life is better when you can laugh. As you can tell by her Facebook page where she keeps the humor memes going daily. Becky looks forward to the upcoming new year. It will be fun to see what 2020 holds.