Estate planning attorneys are helpful during the estate planning process and later throughout the probate court process.
They understand the state and federal laws that will affect your estate.
This means an estate planning attorney can not only describe the various options available to you, but also ensure that your wishes are carried out in accordance with the law.
Hence, their estate plan should follow state guidelines to avoid hassles and expenses later.
An estate planning attorney can also be used to guide anyone with a power of attorney over the estate of a recently deceased person through the probate court process.
In fact, a good estate planning attorney can help you avoid probate court altogether, but much of this depends on the type of estate of the deceased and how it is legally allowed to transfer.
Let’s show you the reason why you should get an estate planning attorney and what to look out for in the lawyer.
What Does an Estate Planning Attorney Do?
Estate planning doesn’t start and end with a final will.
An attorney who specializes in this area will also draft living trusts, develop a plan to mitigate or avoid inheritance taxes, and ensure that the savings and assets in your life are safe from your beneficiary’s creditors after your death.
They can prepare a power of attorney and health care guidelines that allow someone to take care of your affairs should you ever become mentally incompetent.
They can help you avoid guardianship or guardianship problems if you need someone else to take care of your affairs.
Why Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney?
Estate planning attorneys, also known as law estate attorneys or probate attorneys, are experienced and licensed legal professionals with in-depth knowledge of state and federal laws that affect how your estate will be inventoried, evaluated, distributed, and taxed after his death.
In addition to educating you about the probate process, an estate planning attorney can help you with the following tasks:
- Create a will
- Designate your beneficiaries
- Establishing a Durable Power of Attorney and Durable Medical Power of Attorney
- Find ways to reduce and avoid inheritance tax when possible
- Find ways to avoid the probate court process
- Create trusts that you may need to protect your assets, both for your own benefit during your life in the event of disability and for the benefit of your beneficiaries after your death.
Estate planning attorneys often charge a flat fee to help you draft binding legal documents, such as wills and a durable power of attorney.
But they can also be employed part time to help you maintain your estate, act on your behalf to handle disputes when it occurs. And make sure your will is executed according to plan, if necessary.
Qualities to Look For in Your Estate Planning Attorney
A general practitioner may not have the experience and expertise to help you with your unique family and financial situation.
Find an estate planning attorney who:
- dedicates his practice to estate planning
- allows you to share intimate details about your life and concerns so that your estate plan does not fall short of your expectations and needs.
- knows the laws of your state. Otherwise, your estate plan could ultimately be deemed invalid by the court.
Questions for Your Potential Estate-Planning Attorney
The following questions will help you learn more about estate planning and determine if a future estate planning attorney is right for you.
Is your primary goal estate planning?
Proceed to a candidate only if they answer “yes” to this question. A real estate specialist will be up to date with any changes in legal statutes and will have the strategic knowledge to carefully draft your documents as efficiently as possible.
How long have you been practicing?
Obviously, you should strive to find the most experienced attorney possible, one who has seen your prepared documents go into effect after the death of a client. These attorneys will have faced challenges from the courts or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and will know how to overcome obstacles.
Are you really executing the plan?
Some attorneys only draft estate planning documents, while others also manage associated trusts. It is generally more efficient to retain the services of an attorney in the latter category, who can ensure that the correct assets are transferred to the trust.
Do you carry out periodic reviews?
For a small fee, some estate planning attorneys will review your cases semi-annually or annually. This can be important, as adjustments to your plan may be necessary if you are experiencing a change in life or finances. The new legislative changes could also change aspects of your estate planning.
What is your experience with inheritance tax? How to better manage property taxes?
Case in point: the 2017 law on tax cuts and employment increased exemptions from inheritance tax and the generation jump tax until 2025.
Can you help me create a comprehensive estate plan that includes wills, trusts, and life insurance?
You can have many types of wills, trusts, and life insurance plans, and comprehensive estate plans can include all of these. Therefore, it is important that your probate attorney is familiar with these areas.
You may want your probate attorney to help you understand the nuances of each estate planning tool and discern which one’s may be right for you.
How do you invoice?
Many estate planning attorneys charge a flat fee, rather than billing by the hour. Some do both: They charge a flat fee for standard services, such as setting up a trust, and then charge an hourly rate for special research assignments.
Either way, it is advisable to inform yourself in advance about the compensation models to avoid surprises.
What do you think of a revocable living trust?
Placing assets in a revocable living trust can avoid the costly and burdensome probate process (filing a will in court).
But this may not be the best solution for everyone, since revocable living trusts do not prevent inheritance, inheritance, or income taxes.3 4 5 Unfortunately, some attorneys recommend these structures simply so that you can collect more money.
What other problems are you solving?
As life expectancy increases, the likelihood of long-term physical and mental health problems also increases. Estate attorneys should help clients prepare financially for the possibility of disability or dementia by writing powers of attorney, health care guidelines, and living wills.
How long will it take to complete my estate planning project?
While there is generally no extreme rush, keep in mind that you may want to discuss aspects of your estate plan with other professionals, such as accountants, retirement planners, or fund managers.
While the experience of a probate attorney may overlap these areas, they may not be a general tax expert or investment advisor. Get a bigger picture of your estate plan and the logistics to implement it.
Will you send me estate planning documents to review?
Even if you are working with an experienced estate planning attorney, it is essential to review all documents and forms to avoid miscommunication.
An estate planning attorney will help and guide you in choosing the correct options for maintaining your estate after death or in the event of disability.
An experienced attorney seeks to fully understand her wishes and goals regarding the maintenance of her estate and other assets and suggests ways to achieve those wishes.