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“Say not you know another entirely until you have divided an inheritance with him,” Johann Kaspar Lavater said. Unfortunately, this quote is more accurate than not. Death and inheritance can either bring a family closer together or drive the deepest and most venomous schism between family members. Although it is unpleasant to consider, estate planning is the best way to protect your assets and ensure the right people inherit them after your death. There is no one better to assist and guide you through the estate and trust planning process than an estate attorney. Read on for more about estate planning and probate and estate lawyers.
What is estate planning?
Your estate is made of all your assets – land, money, investments, and possessions like your house, cars, and jewelry.
Estate planning and estate protection refer to the legal process of creating an action plan to determine what happens to your assets after you die. It considers how your estate is divided and whom it passes down to, post your lifetime.
Estate planning comprises five components – a will, trust, power of attorney, health care directives, and beneficiary designations.
Understanding the importance of estate planning
Estate planning can do more than prevent family strife and ugly legal battles and ensure your possessions and valuables are inherited by the people you choose. Here’s a look at the importance of estate planning.
Estate planning allows you to make individual plans for family members
With no estate planning and estate protection in place, the court decides all things related to the distribution of your estate among family members. An estate plan allows you to determine whether you want to divide your assets equally.
For instance, you might want to leave more money for a mentally challenged child. You may also favor a child who looked after you while you were ill. You might want to set up a trust (another critical part of state planning) for a child who might benefit from not inheriting a lump sum.
Without estate and trust planning, a court will not know which of your children has been responsible and which you don’t want to have free access to your money.
Estate planning ensures your assets go to the beneficiaries you choose
Without a legal estate plan in place, the court will have to decide who gets your assets if you die unexpectedly and before your time. There are several drawbacks to this:
- The court will make its own decision because it does not know how you want your assets divided.
- The entire procedure can take years and cause significant stress and tension among family members.
- Even if you want your spouse to inherit everything, the court may not automatically rule in their favor.
Estate planning protects your minor children
If you die young, a will can ensure your children are cared for the way you want. For example, you can make a will (a vital part of an estate plan) that names guardians for young children – someone you trust to care for your children if both parents die. If there is no will, then the court will decide who will raise your children.
Estate planning can ensure beneficiaries are not hit with massive tax
Leaving assets to your loved ones can help protect them once you are no longer around to take care of them. Still, significant assets like a massive house can actually be a burden to them as they will be left with having to pay massive state and federal estate taxes and state inheritance taxes. Estate planning strategies can help you ensure that your beneficiaries pay as little tax as possible.
What is an estate planning attorney?
An estate planning attorney refers to experienced and licensed law professionals who specialize in handling all types of estate planning matters. That includes creating a will and designating your beneficiaries. They establish both durable powers of attorney and medical durable powers of attorney. They will also find the best ways to reduce/avoid any estate tax if possible and also find the best legal ways to avoid the probate court process.
How probate and estate lawyers can help
While an estate lawyer works with a person’s estate while they are living, probate lawyers help someone’s family with their estate after they have died. Probate is a time-consuming process, with even the most straightforward cases taking months to close. Then there are pitfalls within the probate code that could put your estate at risk. Experienced probate and estate lawyers can provide exceptional legal services, handle these pitfalls and ensure a speedy probate process.
Hiring an estate lawyer
There are estate lawyers, and then there are experienced and professional estate lawyers – the difference is vast. Even minor legal errors can cost you both time and money. While estate planning can be a simple and straightforward process, you must hire someone who understands estate planning and its complexities. It would be beneficial if you had someone who could handle the plethora of legal issues that may arise after your death. That includes sibling feuds and disputes that may arise during the probate process.
There is a possibility that your estate, no matter how large or small, will cause family feuds and disputes after you die. With estate planning and estate protection, you can avoid all this, ensuring that only the people you choose will inherit what you want them to after you die. An experienced estate planning attorney can recommend the best estate planning strategies for your specific needs, requirements, and estate.
By Connor Ferguson
who is a legal journalist with over 15 years of experience in writing blogs, articles, and whitepapers on legal matters. He also works as a part-time legal advisor for a premier estate planning law firm. He specializes in property, inheritance, and maintenance law.
Member since June, 2023
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