Not many people aren’t excited by the prospect of getting their affairs in order, and most people actively procrastinate to avoid it. However, the fact remains that everyone needs to have a comprehensive estate plan to protect their assets. An estate plan is a collection of legal documents that manages your assets during your lifetime and provides for their distribution to your beneficiaries upon your passing. It can make your wishes clear to your family, avoid family conflict that might otherwise arise, minimize taxes, prevent a complex court process known as probate from having to occur, and give you and your loved ones peace of mind. Essentially, an estate plan secures your legacy!
Some people attempt to create their estate plan without legal guidance. They think that information and templates they can find online will be just as effective, and that they will save money on legal fees. However, it’s always best to work with an estate planning attorney who is familiar with local, state, and federal estate laws and who can give you the most accurate, reliable information about your estate plan. An estate planning attorney can also personalize your plan to your unique needs, something that requires practice to be able to do properly. There is a reason that attorneys study for years and have to pass a bar examination to be able to do this without mistakes.
The following are some of the most common benefits that an estate planning attorney can offer you:
Help You Understand What Legal Instruments You Need to Meet Your Estate Planning Goals
An estate plan is more than just a last will and testament. It may include a will, trust, power of attorney, advance directive, and other tools. Depending on the value and scope of your estate, different estate planning instruments available to you may offer you certain protections; an estate planning attorney can explain what each document does, what your options are, and which you should have based on your specific life circumstances.
Help You Plan For Long-Term Care And Incapacity
A will can only take effect after your death, but there are a few scenarios that may occur during your lifetime that an estate planning attorney will guide you through planning for. For example, if you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself, who is designated to make those decisions for you, and what should those decisions be? Or if you need to enter a nursing home, how will you pay for that type of care (which isn’t covered by private insurance or by Medicare?)? These are important questions to ask and answer.
Amend Your Estate Plan When Necessary
When your life changes, your estate plan should change with it. Divorce and/or remarriage, moving, getting a new job, and other big life events are causes for updating your estate plan, as leaving it untouched for many years could unknowingly invalidate the documents. The last thing you want is an outdated plan that won’t be effective when your family needs to use it! A skilled estate planning attorney can make changes to your plan when necessary and prevent you and your loved ones from losing time and money in the future.
Stay Abreast Of Recent Changes In Laws Regarding Wills, Trusts, And Estates
Estate planning laws are found in your state’s probate code. The Uniform Probate Code has also been influential in the evolution of probate laws in some states. Probate codes and tax laws are always changing, and knowledgeable estate planning attorneys understand how these changes affect your plan! You will get the most up-to-date information regarding probate laws and taxes so you can make the most informed decisions.
Resolve Estate Disputes
Estate disputes often arise among surviving family members who are displeased with the provisions contained in a decedent’s will or estate plan. Sometimes, a family member may contest the will in court, claiming that the deceased person was under duress or didn’t have the mental capacity to act independently. Sometimes, if no will was left behind, family members may argue about what the deceased person would have wanted. Sometimes, creditors or family members may attempt to make claims on the estate. Regardless of what the dispute is, it can be costly to navigate and can potentially result in you losing your inheritance or worse, your close relationships with your family. An estate planning attorney can decrease the risk of disputes occurring in the first place, but they can also help negotiate them amicably if possible; in many cases, they can defend your rights and interests in court, if necessary.
Avoid Estate Taxes And Probate Administration
Many prospective clients who seek the services of an estate planning attorney want to make sure that they avoid probate, a complex Utah court process, and reduce their tax burden. One of the most effective ways to achieve both of these goals is to create a trust, which an estate planning attorney can help you do. Trusts are financial entities that own and manage assets outside of the creator, or grantor’s, name. Trusts, unlike wills, do not have to undergo probate before their contents can be legally transferred to a deceased person’s beneficiaries.
Trusts can also minimize taxes, shield your assets from qualifying for Medicaid’s strict low income requirements, and provide other benefits. Because probate can take years and cost thousands of dollars (not to mention putting a tremendous burden of stress on your family at a time when they should be grieving peacefully and moving forward), this is one of the primary reasons why hiring an estate planning attorney is so important!
Green Legal Group Can Help You With Your Estate Planning Needs
Don’t wait until it’s too late to plan ahead. No one knows what tomorrow will hold; you can’t always predict the future, but you can prepare for it and ensure that you are setting your family up for success as much as it is up to you! Estate planning attorney Josh Green and his team have over 15 years of combined experience. We will take the time to get to know you, answer your questions, and explain all of your options. Our legal guidance can protect everything and everyone who matters most to you! Let us save you and your family time and money and build a strong financial foundation. Call Green Legal Group today to schedule a free 30 minute consultation and get started.