The Benefits of Creating an Estate Plan With a Professional
You’ve worked hard to build your net worth and you realize it’s time to put plans in place for the orderly transfer of your estate. You’ve seen or heard about the online forms for preparing a will or a trust and may assume that using one will be fine. Even if your estate is relatively simple, though, there are many pitfalls to preparing an estate plan without the guidance of an experienced legal professional.
What Will an Estate Planning Attorney Do for You?
An experienced estate planning lawyer typically starts by learning as much as possible about your financial situation, as well as your wishes:
- What property do you own, and how is it titled?
- Do you have minor children? If so, who do you wish to be their guardian in the event of your death?
- Have you made, or do you intend to make, any substantial lifetime gifts?
Once your estate planning attorney has documented your estate and determined your goals, they will carefully explain the different ways you can meet your objectives, including:
- The retitling of assets to avoid probate
- The use of lifetime gifts to transfer net worth
- The use of estate planning tools, such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and advance directives/medical powers of attorney
Your lawyer will carefully explain the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, so that you can make good decisions about how to proceed. Once you decide how you want to structure your estate plan, your attorney will carefully prepare and execute all necessary documents, including:
- A will – This document identifies how assets will be distributed, final debts paid, tax returns filed, and guardianships appointed. All assets that pass through a will are included in the probate process.
- A trust,/em> – When you create a trust, you establish a separate legal entity and transfer your property to that entity, retaining (or granting to others) rights related to the use of those assets. Because you no longer own the property, it is not subject to probate after your death.
- A power of attorney – This document, when executed, gives another person the right to act on your behalf. The power of attorney may be general or restricted to specific issues, such as medical or financial matters.
- An advance medical directive or living will – These documents indicate the type of medical care you do or do not want to receive if you cannot make decisions on your own behalf.
It’s important to understand that working with an estate planning attorney is not a one-time event. Change is one of the constants of life—you should plan to meet with your estate planning attorney on a regular basis to review any changes in your financial health or status, as well as your potential beneficiaries, so that your estate plan can be updated to remain in compliance with your wishes.
Contact the Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment with a knowledgeable and proven estate planning lawyer, contact us by email or call our offices at 844-402-2992. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.