Hiring an estate attorney is beneficial whenever setting up estate planning or settling a decedent estate. There are many factors to consider when creating Wills or trusts. The types of strategies required vary by each individual’s personal situation.
Working with an estate attorney not only protects inheritance for heirs, it also lessens the time required for probate. Furthermore, attorneys can advise of strategies to protect children including setting up a child trust fund and arranging legal guardianship.
Will preparation is a fundamental aspect of estate planning. Wills are used with probate estates and trusts and are necessary for appointing an estate administrator. Wills are used to bequeath all property that isn’t transferred by way of survivorship rights or beneficiary death benefits.
Probate is the process used to record property transfers and make certain decedent debts are cleared. There are several ways to avoid probate or at least minimize assets that have to endure settlement proceedings.
Trusts are used to avoid probate; reduce estate and inheritance tax; and maintain privacy of the Will. There are many types of trusts, with each serving a unique purpose. Most are setup prior to death, others become effective after death. Some can be changed, others are irrevocable.
Working with an estate planning law firm, like Craton, Switzer and Tokar, can ease the process and ensure maximum protection is attained. One thing to consider is estate planning is an on-going service so it’s advantageous to interview at least 3 to 4 lawyers.
The attorney you choose is given the task of providing the best guidance to protect everything you’ve worked hard to acquire. Wills and trusts are referred to as ‘living documents’ because they need to be updated from time to time.
Wills and trusts should be updated whenever major life changes occur. These can include marriage, divorce, or death of a spouse; adoption, birth, or death of a child; purchase or sale of real estate, financial investments, or business assets; or when adding or deleting beneficiaries or estate agents.
When it comes to wealth management and strategic planning, you want to work with someone that will perform tasks to ensure trusts are funded and property is titled correctly.
It’s helpful to create a list of questions for consultations. When making appointments ask for a list of documents required for the meeting. Be certain to understand fee structures and payment options. In most cases, lawyers expect payment upfront for preparing Wills and trusts, but there are situations when payment plans can be arranged.
Some law firms provide complimentary consultations to meet estate lawyers while others assess a fee. Be certain to find out if payment is expected when setting up consultations. It is usually more beneficial to pay a nominal fee to obtain all the information needed to enter into estate planning. Complimentary meetings typically only last for 15 to 30 minutes and aren’t as thorough as paid sessions.
Lawyers sometimes charge a flat fee for Will preparation or setting up trusts. However, flat fees don’t always include additional costs such as photocopying, court filing fees, postage, or research.
Estate lawyers should also be able to provide guidance regarding setting up a retirement plan, business succession, life insurance, and college funds. Although lawyers don’t sell these kinds of products they should offer advice about the kinds of products needed to reach your goals.
Working with estate attorneys ensures that property will be gifted to heirs and beneficiaries that you have chosen. Lawyers can help setup estate power of attorney to empower agents so they can perform duties without interference.
At Craton, Switzer and Tokar, we work closely with clients to ensure they are informed about the different types of estate planning strategies and the benefits each offers. We provide ongoing services to prevent complications from arising during probate or estate settlement.
We invite you to browse our estate planning article blog to learn more about Wills, trusts, and probate and obtain tips for hiring an estate attorney. We also invite you to contact us to discuss your needs for estate planning and asset protection.