11 Reasons You Want an Estate Planning Lawyer
For most, death is an uncomfortable reality. And preparing for your eventual death is doubly uncomfortable. Therefore, you may not want to know the reasons you want an estate planning lawyer.
But take a moment to consider your family and friends. If you value caring for the people in your life, one of the wisest things you can do is prepare estate planning documents such as a living will, living trusts, a will, and other such paperwork. These documents reduce the strain placed on your loved ones.
Estate Planning Terms
Before you can dive into estate planning, knowing general terms will help you speak knowledgeably when you seek to create documents for your life.
Advance Directive – a living will or durable power of attorney that details your wishes for medical treatment after incapacitation
Inheritance – receiving real or personal property from a will
Intestate – no valid will created before death
Probate – a legal process that is triggered in absence of a will that endeavors to transfer a person’s assets appropriately
Real Property – buildings, crops, land, or other items attached to land property
These terms are all a part of estate planning. Being familiar with these terms will improve your communication with your lawyer.
11 Reasons You Want an Estate Planning Lawyer
In a do-it-yourself culture, many things can be done on your own. However, a professional is crucial in some situations. If you want the certainty of a job done correctly, you need an expert. In life, you take steps to make financially smart plans, you should be just as intentional with the plans for the end of your life.
Incapacitation or death makes it difficult for you to have a say in what happens with your health or assets. Estate planning allows you to have a say, and you want your plans to be legally binding.
1. Control Who Receives Your Assets
Back in the day, only the rich created wills. However, wills are useful for any family or individual because these wills can provide for your loved ones even after you can no longer care for them. Without a will in place, the legal system will try to decide who receives your assets.
Leaving your assets to the mercy of the legal system often means years of waiting for a decision to be made. The legal system doesn’t know the people in your family with their strengths and weaknesses. In fact, courts don’t always award assets to the surviving family members.
2. Protect Young Children
When you have children under the age of 18, you need to consider what would happen to them if you were to pass away suddenly. Without a will with guardians listed for your children, the legal system will step in. This time the courts will try to determine the best options available for who will raise your children.
Raising children is an extremely personal business. You want to be sure that the guardians who are named share your values on key subjects. Your children are precious. Provide for them in the event of your death.
3. Plan for Taxes
Taxes can rip the bottom out of your generosity to your heirs. Estate planning helps you to choose options with the least amount of tax burden. In all honesty, careful estate planning can reduce the amount of federal and state estate taxes that needs to be paid on inheritance.
A lawyer can help you figure out how to lessen possible income tax as well. Estate planning helps your money and assets to go where you want it to and not to get tangled in taxes. Plan well for the future.
4. Manage Family Tensions
No one knows your family like you do. You know who manages money well and who doesn’t. You know who likes to pick a fight just to have a fight. The subject of inheritance can cause a lot of family tension and relationship-ruining fights.
A detailed estate plan lessens the chance for family feuds. When your will is laid out in detail and legally binding, family members have less room to cause problems. Take the steps to plan what will happen with your assets, property, and money.
5. Much More than a Will
Most people are aware of the importance of a will, but an estate plan is so much more than a will, although a will is often included. An estate plan is a set of legal documents that lays out protections and plans for your assets. These legally binding documents ensure that your wishes are carried out.
A will is a good start, but it doesn’t cut it for your involved life. To really protect your assets and provide for your family, you need to have an estate plan to prepare for any variable of situations.
6. Save Time
One of your most precious commodities and assets is your time and energy. Unwinding the complexity of the law and estate planning requires time and energy to be sure that you are creating legally binding documents. An estate planning lawyer already has that knowledge at his or her finger tips.
While your lawyer drafts your estate plan, you can live your life, spend time with your family, and continue to move higher into your career. Use your time wisely. It’s an irreplaceable asset.
7. Complicated Law
The law, in general, sets certain standards while also allowing for interpretation of that same law. This is what makes law so incredibly complicated. Taking the time to learn estate law is one thing but understanding how to correctly implement it is another. The federal and state courts are constantly altering the law with court decisions.
The wording of your estate plan is crucial to its longevity. You want your estate plan to not contradict itself in any way.
8. One Chance to Do Your Estate Plan Right
An estate plan only gets used once. If, for some reason, important details are left out or the document isn’t legally sound, you can’t just have a second chance. Your death makes another chance to correct your estate plan impossible.
With only one chance to write a legally binding estate plan, you want to be sure it is correct. And, in the event of big changes in your life, a lawyer can ensure that all updates fit seamlessly into your estate plan.
9. Legal Objectivity
An estate lawyer can be a valuable sounding board for your ideas of how to leave your assets. For example, you may want to leave your estate to Chip, your 18-year-old son, but he’s unlikely to know how to manage it wisely. A lawyer will listen and give you honest advice.
An estate lawyer has experience that can further aid your own plan. They’ve seen good and bad. Use their insight and knowledge to improve your estate plan.
10. Constant Change
Our lives are always changing. Basically, the only consistent thing within our lives is change. So an estate plan written 10 years ago may no longer accurately reflect your wishes. In fact, you could still be naming your ex-spouse rather than your current, or maybe grandchildren have been added to the mix.
An estate lawyer helps you to keep up with the changes, knowing when you should update your estate plan. Better yet, an estate lawyer can make the changes for you.
11. The Final Determination
After you’ve died, your estate plan will be examined by judges to ensure that your documents meet the requirements of the law. Often do-it-yourself estate plans won’t meet those standards. When that happens, your wishes are lost.
Hiring a lawyer to create and update your estate plan will ensure that your plans will happen after your death.
An estate lawyer can be the difference between the validity of your estate plan and losing your wishes. Speak with an estate lawyer today.