Creating an estate plan is vital to protecting your family’s rights and interests, but many people neglect this aspect of planning for the future or believe that a basic will is enough. However, there is much more to estate planning – important documents like powers of attorney and advance directives can safeguard your rights if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. An experienced estate law attorney can assess your circumstances and help you create a plan that is tailored to your specific needs.
Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?
Whether you are of modest means or extremely wealthy, anyone can benefit from having an estate plan. Life-changing events can happen in the blink of an eye, and being prepared in the event of an accident, illness or death can help give you peace of mind, knowing that your family will be taken care of. It does not matter how old you are – the sooner you start planning, the better.
How a Wills and Trusts Lawyer can Help
Although there are DIY ways to create estate planning documents, having a wills and estate attorney assist you with the process is vital. A lawyer can help to ensure all documents are properly drafted and executed, which can cut down on family conflict and make things much easier at an already difficult time. Airtight powers of attorney are also important to protect your rights should you become incapacitated.
If you’re divorced, you probably have a local divorce attorney who handled your case. However, it’s critical to ensure your estate plan is up to date after major life events like marriage, divorce, and the birth of children or grandchildren. The distribution of assets can often get messy when multiple marriages and children are involved. A wills and trusts lawyer can advise you of your options and help you create an estate plan that ensures your assets are protected and appropriately distributed in the event of your death.
What is Probate?
One major reason to hire a good wills and trusts attorney is to help your family avoid the probate process. When someone dies, their estate may have to pass through the probate court to be distributed to their heirs and beneficiaries. This process can be lengthy and costly and makes some if not all of the information about your estate public. If you’re concerned about privacy issues, potential family conflict, or other problems, probate attorneys can help you understand how the process may apply to your specific situation and what you can do to try and avoid it.
Common Estate Planning Documents
An estate planning attorney can draft the following documents, which help safeguard your interests and ensure that your wishes are carried out as specified:
- Power of attorney for health care
- Power of attorney for finances
- Advance directive
- Living trust
- Other types of trusts
Each situation is unique. Your lawyer can advise you on the best ways to protect yourself, your assets, and your family. In some cases, this may involve setting up trusts so certain assets do not have to go through probate. An attorney can also figure out how to structure your estate plan to help minimize the tax burden your family may incur when your estate is distributed.
Do you need help creating an estate plan? Our experienced wills and trusts lawyers can help.