Get a Free Claim Review

Estate Planning Lawyer

Estate planning is the legal procedure using which an individual can ensure that their healthcare and property wishes are honored after their death. It is also a handy tool to ensure that the loved ones are provided for in the absence of the individual. A comprehensive estate plan resolves important legal issues that arise after a person’s death. It answers the following legal queries:

  • Who is the heir to the assets left behind by the deceased?
  • Will the assets belong solely to a person or should they be divided?
  • Do the minor children of the deceased need to be placed in the guardianship of a person chosen by them?
  • What funeral arrangements should be made for the deceased?

Multiple legal procedures that can ensure that the aforementioned issues along with other inconsistencies that may arise are addressed and dealt with. Hiring an estate planning attorney is the best way to navigating through the numerous procedures and ensuring that everything is accounted for.

What is an Estate?

Estate is more than just the property you own. In legal terms, the estate includes all the assets that an individual owns at the time of their death. These include:

  • Real estate
  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks and other financial investments
  • Life insurance policies
  • Vehicles, jewelry, paintings and other artwork, and other personal property

Benefits of Estate Planning

Estate planning can benefit you in the following ways:

  • Ensures your loved ones do not suffer financially or are forced to get into a legal battle
  • Estate planning addresses the division of assets and prevents bitterness among family members
  • It ensures that all the assets are secured from ill-intending parties who can otherwise benefit from discrepancies and disputes
  • Estate planning allows you to make provisions for a loved one with special needs and ensure their needs are taken care of in your absence
  • It also allows you to minimize taxes that will be required to be paid for the legal transference of your property to your loved ones
  • You can also use estate planning to determine the quality of health and medical care you receive, in case, you fail to make your wishes known when the time arrives
  • Through estate planning, you can also make provisions for your funeral arrangements

Ways to Implement Estate Planning

You can use the following tools for estate planning:

Wills

One of the most common estate planning tools used, Wills allow individuals to easily transfer property and other assets to the survivors while reducing the tax burden. There is no definite size or template to a will. The size and complexity of the will depend on the preferences of the testator – the person drafting the will. Typically, a will describes the assets or estate to be transferred, the division of estates, instructions about minor children, gifts to charity, and the formation of trusts. However, for a will to be considered valid, it must fulfill the legal requirements of the state where it is being drafted. The basic requirements that are common to almost all states are:

  • The testator should be of sound mind. This means that the testator must be able to understand the document in its entirety and supervise its drafting
  • All wills must be written
  • Pre-printed documents are accepted across states while some states also allow wills written by testators
  • A testator is required to sign their will to validate it. In case they are not in a position to do so, they are to direct another person to sign their will in the presence of witnesses or notarize the chosen individual’s signature.

A will that meets all the state requirements are considered valid and remain in force until they are superseded by another will.

Trusts

Trusts are an alternative to wills and serve the additional purpose of allowing people to manage their properties when alive. This estate planning tool enables you to handle taxes and distribute money and property to trust beneficiaries. Creating trust is fairly simple. Typically, trusts are created when the owner of the property, also termed as the grantor, trustor, or settlor, transfers the legal ownership rights to the trustee which can be a professional, an institution, or a family member to manage the property for the benefit of another person known as a beneficiary. Generally, the trustee receives compensation for managing the property. The trustee is responsible for acting in the best interests of the beneficiary which creates a fiduciary relationship between the trustee and the beneficiary. The trustor can also act as a trustee and retain the ownership rights of the property but they are legally liable to work in the best interests of the beneficiary. However, any trust agreement can only come into effect when the trustor transfers the property to a trustee.

Living Wills

Unlike wills and trusts, living will do not deal with the transference of properties or assets. It is rather a directive to ensure they receive medical and health care according to their preferences when they are not in a position to let their demands be known. Living wills first became popular for opting out of being put onto artificial life support. But today, these can be used to demand medical treatments. Living will need to be drafted in accordance with the formalities set by the state.

Why Hire an Estate Planning Attorney?

Here is why hiring an estate planning attorney is necessary:

  • Estate planning laws differ from state to state. Estate planning attorneys are well-versed with the differences and can help you navigate through them
  • Estate planning is a dynamic and complex procedure. Updating wills and trusts from time to time is a good idea and consulting an estate planning attorney can help you determine when to do so
  • Estate planning attorneys will help you draft and file error-free documents compliant with the current laws of the state
  • Analyze and solve complex family problems and financial situations that may arise during estate planning or after its enforcement

Sign up to The Legal Helpers to find an experienced estate planning attorney and start planning for the future today