Estate Planning Attorney
Hiring an estate planning attorney is a crucial part of developing a plan for what happens to your assets and personal belongings in the event of your death. When people die without executing a Last Will and Testament or arranging a living trust, everything they own is placed into probate.
An estate planning attorney can help you avoid probate by implementing irrevocable life insurance trusts, living trusts, and assigning payable-on-death and transfer-on-death beneficiaries. The probate process can take several months to several years to settle. Without implementing estate planning procedures, all your worldly possessions will be distributed to heirs according to probate laws.
Estate planning is important for everyone, but is of particular importance when you have minor children. Guardianship can be established in your Last Will and Testament. While you can't give minor children to a relative or friend; provisions for their care, along with setting up trust funds, can be arranged in the Will.
It is best to establish estate planning while you are in good health. Individuals who wait until they are terminally ill run the risk of having heirs contest their Will by claiming the decedent was not of sound mind or under due influence because of their illness.
Working with an estate planning lawyer is of particular importance when family discord exists. Unfortunately, death of a family member can bring out the worst in people. Anger, envy and greed oftentimes enter the picture if one or more of the decedent's relatives feel they have been slighted or they are entitled to financial assets or personal belongings.
If no Will exists or an heir contests the Will, the decedent's estate can be tied-up in probate for an extended period of time. When an heir contests the Will, they are responsible for legal fees until a probate judge orders otherwise. If the judge rules in favor of the heir, the estate will be forced to reimburse attorney fees.
Working with a qualified estate planning lawyer can help prevent family feuds and ensure your assets are distributed in the manner which you desire. At minimum, estate planning should consist of a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, and Healthcare Proxy.
Individuals with minor children should establish guardianship and trust funds. Individuals who have estates valued over $100,000 should consider establishing revocable or irrevocable living trusts. Additionally, irrevocable life insurance trusts can be arranged to avoid estate taxes.
Numerous estate planning options exist. Estate planning attorneys can help you sort through the confusion and develop a plan that best suits your needs and the needs of your loved one. Estate planning lawyers can be located in local telephone directories, through attorney referral networks, or through the American Bar Association website.
Published on November 21, 2008 at 01:11 PM