You’ve probably heard a lot about creating a will and an estate plan. But perhaps you’re not quite sure what exactly an estate planning attorney can do for you. You might think planning starts and stops with drafting a last will and testament, but the truth is, an attorney in this field can help prepare for the future in many different ways. From taxes to putting someone in charge of your estate in the event that you are incapacitated, the services they can prepare your estate for almost all eventualities.
While an estate planning attorney generally helps people prepare their estates for the future, the process can be quite in depth and depends on the circumstances and needs of each client. Let’s take a look at what they can do.
Last Will and Testament
The last will and testament is perhaps the most well-known element of estate planning. If its popularity is any indication, it is obviously an important part of any estate plan. Some estate plans are will-based, as opposed to trust-based (more on this later). For plans based on a will, ensuring that the will is drafted correctly is of the utmost importance.
There are many cookie-cutter, DIY will drafting services out there. Very real risks exists for those who use these services. For example, your heirs are pretty much on their own if you make any errors. They will have to hire an attorney, and since it’s usually less expensive to be proactive than reactive in legal matters, it will probably end up costing them much more than if you had hired one in the first place.
Revocable Living Trust
If you choose to create a revocable living trust for a trust-based estate plan, you should still have a will. However, it becomes less important. Someone might choose a revocable living trust over a will for a few reasons:
- If their wealth exceeds the federal estate tax exemption.
- If they want to plan for the possibility of mental incapacitation.
- In case they wish to make their children their beneficiaries but want to determine when their children can access the money.
It’s important to note, however, that if you decide to go this route you need to fund the trust. In other words, you need to transfer ownership of property from yourself to the trust. As trustee, you will still control to this property, but in the event of death or incapacitation, your trust will transfer your property to your heirs. Most of the time, you can avoid probate with a revocable living trust.
What Could Happen without an Estate Planning Attorney
Without an estate planning attorney to guide you through the process, there are many things that could go wrong. If you don’t create one, your property will be subject to the laws of each state where you hold it. More than likely, the states will not carry out your wishes, leaving your intended heirs with little to nothing, or massive legal bills if they decide to take their claim to court.
Want to start planning for the future of your estate? Call Casal & Moreno today.